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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Loopholes with Cyber Charter Schools

Earlier this month I found an entry over at Daily Gusto concerning the case of a Pennsylvania senator and a cyber charter school (see Santorum cyber school case continues). Apparently, this Senator (who primarily resides in Virginia) used public funds from the State of Pennsylvania to have his children attend a cyber charter school, and there was nothing wrong with that!

According to Pennsylvania law, the good Senator was able to use funds intended for public education in the Penn Hills School District to pay for his children to attend a cyber charter school because the good Senator maintained a home in Penn Hills and paid property taxes there. It appears that "under state law, a school district must pay a fee set by the state for each resident who attends a charter school."

Now, I know that in this case that the good Senator did nothing illegal (see the article "Pennsylvania Ruling Favors Santorum" from Philly.com - which I was directed to by this entry in Distance-Educator.com's Daily News). However, there is a bigger question here. The good Senator probably maintains a residence in Penn Hills for two reasons: a political ploy to be able to make the claim that he still has roots in the community and a personal desire to return to Pennsylvania after he has finished serving in the Senate (I'm only assuming the second reason).

Should the residents of Penn Hills have money taken from their public school system so that the good Senator's children can attend a charter school, particularly when their primary residence is not even in Pennsylvania? In my opinion, the fact of the matter is that the good Senator has found a loophole that allows his students to enjoy a private education at the cost to the taxpayers and this is what is wrong with education in the United States. As someone not from this country, it boggles my mind that Americans allow their publically funded system of education to be destroyed by special interests such as the charter school and cyber charter school movement (who's agenda is really the end of public education).

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