Regarding the Aug. 27 editorial "Virtual Indictment: How Pa. Regulates Charter Schools Is on Trial, Too": The recent allegations against Nicholas Trombetta and Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School expose the urgent need to pass a comprehensive reform of Pennsylvania's public charter schools. Lawmakers had the opportunity to pass legislation that would have paved the way for a better charter funding formula, increased accountability and stronger charter authorizing on at least three occasions over the past few years. But each time, political gridlock got in the way of what was right for kids.
Shocking allegations of financial abuse always generate headlines. But the bigger fraud that deserves more attention is the subpar education that some cyber charters are providing. Nearly every cyber charter school failed to surpass the statewide high school graduation rate of 83 percent, and in many cyber schools less than two-thirds of eighth-graders are proficient readers.
In order to expand high-quality options for students, we must increase academic accountability and support good authorizing practices so that bad schools are closed and good schools have the opportunity to grow. With more than 30,000 families enrolled in cyber schools, it's clear that virtual education is an important -- albeit underperforming -- part of the public education landscape in Pennsylvania.
It's now up to the lawmakers and interest groups to pass legislation that not only strengthens the financial accountability but also ensures that these students -- and the thousands more on waiting lists for schools across the commonwealth -- receive the high-quality education they deserve.
PennCAN is a statewide education reform advocacy organization.