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Failed attempt at Pennsylvania charter school reform leaves collateral damage

By thenotebook on Oct 18, 2012 04:30 PM

by Benjamin Herold, for WHYY/NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner

When Pennsylvania House Republicans were unable to muster the necessary votes Wednesday night to pass a controversial package of charter school reforms, an unrelated attempt to fix special education funding ended up as collateral damage.

For years, disability rights advocates like Maureen Cronin, the executive director of the ARC of Pennsylvania, have been pushing to make the state's special education funding system more fair. The current system sets a single per-pupil payment for all special needs children and assumes that every district in the state serves 16 percent special education students. Advocates want school districts to be paid for the actual number of special needs students they serve, based on the types of disabilities those children have. 

"It's extraordinarily important to us because children all across Pennsylvania are not receiving the special education services they need, and a good deal of the reason is the funding distribution," Cronin said.

A proposal to establish a commission charged with fixing the problem had broad bipartisan support and was approved by the state Senate last spring. But House Republicans tied a package of controversial charter school reforms to the special education funding bill at the last minute, leading to its demise. When the bill was reintroduced during the most recent legislative session, some of the more controversial charter-related provisions had been stripped, leading many to expect its passage. 

But some House members got cold feet Wednesday. When they pulled the plug on the charter school changes, special educaton funding reform died, too.

"We were devastated," Cronin said. "We've put so much into it already, it's just hard to even imagine what could happen next."

Advocates say they hope special education funding reform will be considered on its own merits by the legislature early next year.
 

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Comments (10)

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on October 18, 2012 5:16 pm

Democracy in action - a headless rider leads to mind-numbing results, but hey - at least our esteemed legislators earned their per-diem...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 18, 2012 5:43 pm

I am confused. The Inquirer reported today that the bill was passed....what is going on?

Submitted by Lyonside (not verified) on October 18, 2012 6:09 pm

The bill had passed the Senate, but died in the House.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 19, 2012 8:54 pm

Thank God these slithering types lost a round. They're corrupt and rich--a bad combination and we all need to be afraid.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 20, 2012 6:22 pm
Of course it failed. The majority of state school districts have fewer than 16% and so cash out, the reason that the previous capitation reimbursement was reversed and never will revert. What reason do the majority of statewide school boards have to surrender their subsidy boondoggle merely to be fair to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Fairness?
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on October 21, 2012 2:27 am
The legislation also would have based special education funding on the type of services needed (e.g. type of "disability.") Chester Community Charter has made a lot of money off of a high percentage of students with an IEP for speech services. This is a "low cost" "disability." Remember, Mastery wanted to dump the program at Cleveland because of costs - the students have "multiple disabilities." (Instead, the programs stays but the School District of Philadelphia is giving additional funding to pay for it.) The special education legislation would have made funding more equitable not only because funding would be based on actual number of students with an IEP (and I assume 504) but also because funding would be based on student need / type of "disability" and actual costs.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on October 20, 2012 9:44 pm
" But House Republicans tied a package of controversial charter school reforms to the special education funding bill at the last minute, leading to its demise." There it is. Those so called "reforms" included measures that would hide how funding was allocated in violation of the Right to Know laws. It is a shame to hold up funding for special education, but the proposal must be submitted alone and without the sneaky power grabs.
Submitted by Ken Derstine on October 20, 2012 9:57 pm
This is an often used ALEC method to get legislation they want. but can't get if submitted alone; or to derail legislation they don't want. United States of ALEC from Bill Moyers & Company http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-united-states-of-alec/
Submitted by Jessica Abell (not verified) on November 8, 2012 10:25 pm
I this situation to avoid this they must use a collateral damage spy camera for avoiding this problem for the reforms of the school.
Submitted by Jessica Abell (not verified) on November 8, 2012 10:57 pm
I this situation to avoid this they must use a collateral damage spy camera for avoiding this problem for the reforms of the school.

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