By: Ashley DeMauro Mullins , Regional Legislative Director, ExcelinEd in Action
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to moderate a legislative panel and discussion about the importance of advocacy at the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) conference last week. Ensuring students, parents and teachers are at the forefront of conversations about improving education is critical. I know that elected officials truly value the input of their constituents as they make decisions that will affect students across the Commonwealth! More than 400 charter school leaders, teachers and advocates heard that message loud and clear over the two-day event.
In the past few months, Pennsylvania’s charter school community has had first-hand experience with education clashes at the statehouse after Governor Tom Wolf proposed a series of charter policies designed to cut funding and limit enrollment for families seeking the best educational options for their children. In response, students, parents and educators rallied at the Capitol to tell Governor Wolf and lawmakers how educational opportunity has changed the course of their lives and to demand an end to attacks on charter schools. They delivered more than 1,700 letters in opposition to the proposed policies.
At the conference last week, attendees were reminded that we are in a battle to preserve educational opportunity for our students. Dr. Steve Perry – who operates schools in Connecticut and New York – lit up the room! He told our audience that they can’t sit idly by; school leaders can’t just be advocates for their students in the classroom, they must be advocates for their students in the Capitol, too.
There are opponents seeking to eliminate these independent public schools, but the charter sector will continue to band together to promote what is in the best interest of the students they serve – and that’s the opportunity to learn in the setting that works best for each and every one of them.
While there is still much more work ahead to protect the thousands of students attending Pennsylvania charter schools, I am encouraged by all the supporters who are willing to speak up and engage with their elected officials.
If you are inspired to share your concerns about Governor Wolf’s attack on charter schools, our friends at PCPCS have an easy tool to help you do just that.