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Senate Bill Would Give Colleges Authority To Approve Charter Schools In Pennsylvania

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Part of a bill pending in the Pennsylvania senate would give universities the authority to approve new charter schools. But one non-profit says there's no evidence that would improve student performance.

Right now only traditional school districts can authorize brick-and-mortar charter schools in Pennsylvania. The state approves cyber charters. But Senate Bill 1085 would give roughly 100 higher education institutions the power to approve charters. The non-profit group Research for Action looked at the 12 states where higher eds can okay charters, and found that students in those schools didn't perform any better.

"What we found when we looked at the research is that there was no evidence to support the idea that having a higher ed institution authorize charters would actually improve student outcomes," RFA Executive Director Kate Shaw said.

The bill, as currently written, would give universities that offer doctorates in education -- Pitt, for example -- the authority to approve charters in any Pennsylvania school district. So far, the Senate does not have a vote planned for the bill.

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