Protect Neutrality of Charter Appeal Board – Sept 6, 2023

Education Advocates Tell Shapiro to Protect Neutrality of Charter Appeal Board
State Board Must Not Fall into Hands of Pro-Charter Agenda

(September 6, 2023) – Governor Shapiro has the important responsibility to maintain the credibility and impartiality of the Charter Appeal Board, and advocates called on him to act wisely regarding his appointments.

Following a Philadelphia Inquirer story that reported the Governor has cut a deal with Republican leaders that would allow the Charter Appeal Board (CAB) to be stacked with unabashed pro-charter members. This would fly in the face of the rule of law and cause Pennsylvanians to lose faith in the neutrality of a Board that has the power to overrule the local decisions and direct how local taxes are spent.

“We were alarmed to read reports that Governor Shapiro had cut a deal with Republican leaders to appoint members to the Charter Appeal Board who have a political agenda and would use their position on the CAB to overrule the decisions of locally elected school boards to expand charter schools,” said Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of PA.

“This type of backroom deal threatens to undermine public faith that the Charter Appeal Board will act impartially when making decisions that will have an extraordinary financial impact on taxpayers in school districts throughout the commonwealth,” Spicka continued.

“Any effort to stack the Charter Appeal Board with members who have an agenda to favor charter schools over local control violates both the intent and the letter of the law,” said Donna Cooper, executive director of Children First.

Cooper added, “We most strongly urge Governor Shapiro to appoint a balanced slate of qualified nominees who will be impartial and willing to fulfill the important responsibilities of the CAB, including renominating current Board members with expired terms to ensure institutional consistency moving forward.”

The following organizations signed onto the letter: 412 Justice, AFT Pennsylvania, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Children First, Education Law Center, Education Voters of PA, Pennsylvania Policy Center, Power, and Teach Plus PA.