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Pa. Auditor General Hears Tales of Charter School Accountability Woes

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(Public education advocate Helen Gym testifies before Pennsylvania auditor general Eugene DePasquale and staffer Lisa Wagenseller.  Photo by Mike DeNardo)

(Public education advocate Helen Gym testifies before Pennsylvania auditor general Eugene DePasquale and staffer Lisa Wagenseller. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania’s auditor general is examining ways to hold charter schools accountable.  Today, he held the last of five charter hearings at City Hall.

With more than half of Pennsylvania’s charter schools in Philadelphia, state auditor general Eugene DePasquale (at left in photo) came to City Council chambers for his final statewide hearing on charter accountability.

Local education activist Helen Gym (at far right in photo) testified that the threat of revoking a school’s charter shouldn’t be equated with accountability.

“The closure of a charter school, the closure of a public school, is not holding them accountable,” she said.  “It is a massive failure.”

Testimony also focused on Pa. Senate Bill 1085, which would allow universities to authorize new charters.  Only local schools boards do so now.

Jonathan Cetel, of the group “Penn Can,” thinks that should change.

“In an ideal environment, charter school applicants have access to at least two authorizing options in every jurisdiction,” he said.

But Gym questioned whether a charter that fails under one authorizer could then apply to another.

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