Wolf defends charter school cuts, doubles down on opposition to supervised injection sites

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf talks to Keystone Crossroads staff at WHYY in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf talks to Keystone Crossroads staff at WHYY in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Governor Tom Wolf’s newest plan for Pennsylvania charter schools has ruffled some feathers.

Keystone Crossroads received a flood of social media messages and phone calls during Friday’s episode of Ask Governor Wolf, mostly from concerned parents over the change in charter school funding.

The interview with Wolf came days after his 2020-21 budget address. You can stream the full show, recorded live in Philadelphia, with the ‘listen’ button above.

Wolf proposed reducing the amount of money school districts have to pay when one of their special education students decides to attend a charter school. He also plans to reduce payments made to cyber charter schools.

Wolf responded to parent criticism by emphasizing that when charter schools work well, “they really add things to the educational enterprise.”

The governor said he wants parents to have school choice — but also sees the need to hold charter schools more accountable.

“Some operators can use loopholes in the system and weaknesses in the legislation to actually gain the system,” Wolf said. “Right now, the charter school gives the public school board a bill and they have to pay. There’s no accountability.”

Trump doesn’t deserve credit for Pa.’s strong economy, Wolf says

The president brought his 2020 reelection campaign to Hershey in December. During his speech, Trump took responsibility for the commonwealth’s strong economy.

Wolf wholeheartedly disagrees with Trump’s proclamations.

The governor said that neither he or Trump deserve credit, and that Pennsylvania is just one piece of an international puzzle.

“Generally, the global economy is pretty strong and we’re part of that global economy,” Wolf said.

On supervised injection sites

After discussing the opioid crisis across Pennsylvania, Wolf confronted the pleas in Philadelphia to open supervised injection sites, where people can use drugs under the watch of medical professionals.

Wolf has repeatedly opposed supervised injection sites. In Friday’s interview, he stood strong in his position.

“I’m afraid that safe injection sites actually create the sense that maybe we’re relaxing our effort on prevention and just doing something to mitigate the problem,” Wolf said. “I want to prevent it. I would like to drop demand for these harmful things.”

While many proponents of supervised injection sites claim the facilities could reduce the number of overdose deaths, Wolf pushed back on this idea.

Currently, three people are dying in Philadelphia everyday from an overdose.

Ask Governor Wolf host Kevin McCorry asked Wolf why he wouldn’t support supervised injection sites if they could reduce that number to two or one.

“I’m not sure that it’ll bring us to one,” Wolf said.

Wolf said he supports clean needles, needle exchange centers, “but safe injection sites I don’t agree with.”

During the hourlong interview, Wolf also spoke about issues such as infrastructure, the environment and entitlement spending.

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