The House Education Committee held a public hearing this week on HB 1897. The bill, authored by Chairman Curt Sonney (R-Erie), would require all school districts to offer full-time cyber education programs by the 2021-22 school year, as well as set regulations for school district-run cyber education programs. Three panels of education experts testified on the proposed legislation and offered opinions on whether or not the bill should become law.
- The first panel was comprised of representatives from the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units who support HB 1897; the panel touted the cyber education programs run by Intermediate Units and mentioned these programs could facilitate the increased need for programming the bill would bring.
- The second panel contained leaders from The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, who also supported the bill, as they believe it would fix issues in current law relating to accountability and transparency in the cyber charter system.
- The third panel consisted of leadership from three cyber charter schools in the Commonwealth. This panel opposed HB 1897 and touted the work their cyber charters have done in educating students via distance learning; the testifiers said this bill would shutter all cyber charter schools operating currently in Pennsylvania, which would leave students and parents without school choice options.
The panel presentation highlighted the broader issues that persist between public and charter schools in the state, especially absent any separate reforms specific to cyber charters. While HB 1897 pertains to all school districts, it remains to be seen whether it will gain more momentum than other education policy bills have in Harrisburg in recent sessions. PPC will continue to monitor this bill as it is considered by the General Assembly.