A Quick Note

November 17, 2022 | Sharon Sedlar

Last week, I wrote about true education choice: the vision of open education opportunity for all children, regardless of demographics or income.  (And yes, I realize that this would require a monumental effort to remake the entire education system within Pennsylvania.)  While it may be easy to envision the end result, the road to actually getting there takes many – among them, students, parents, education providers, and appointed and elected officials.  We all have a part to play.

Passed in July of 2022, HB1642 (the “School Code Bill”) provides the “Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness,” as introduced by Senator Ryan Aument last year.  The Subcommittee on Education Planning includes 41 members from the education and workforce governmental agencies, education agencies and districts, select PA universities, vocational and associate programs, and various charter and alternate K-12 education organizations.  This is a fantastic start, and my expectation is that students, parents, and teachers are included in the conversation.

While some may dispute an increase in a government office from a general political standpoint, I believe that a good start would be additional staffing at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, not only as evidenced by the backlash pursuant to the Auditor General’s recently returned reporting duty, but also the PDE’s lack of ability to process charter audits and renewals in a timely manner.  I would submit the following would be beneficial from a parent perspective *:

  • Comprehensive, extensive and direct PDE revenue and expense tracking programs with public query availability
  • Public record posting, cost validation and auditing
  • Direct charter tuition processing (rather than through districts) with publicly available, PDE-363 forms as completed
  • Audits of all public schools and student programming to evaluate efficacy, environment, use of funding, and improvement plan need and success 

(Note: It’s entirely possible that many of these provisions already exist, but as a parent and taxpayer seeking this type of information frequently, it is not easily found or it is currently not a capability.)

Parents should be able to make informed decisions about their education choices, and that detailed information should be readily and easily available.  The PDE should be able to do its job in its critical oversight of the education of Pennsylvania’s children. There is no quick remedy, but in my view, these measures would a great improvement.

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