Plan would boost Pa. charters’ teacher certifications

Traditional public schools and charter schools don’t have the same rules when it comes to teacher certifications, but one new proposal would bring the two types of schools a little closer together.

All professional staff at traditional public schools in Pennsylvania are required to be certified by the state. Contrast that with charter and cyber-charter schools, which are only required to have 75 percent of their teachers state certified.

Forthcoming legislation from state Rep. Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery, would hike that level to 80 percent.

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“I believe that requiring a higher percentage of charter and cyber-charter school professional staff to hold state certification will help ensure that students attending such schools receive a quality education,” wrote Murt in a memo to colleagues.

The state’s major interest group supporting charters, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, declined to comment on the plan.

Some critics suggest that a 5 percent increase in certification levels wouldn’t do much to elevate teaching standards at charters.

Pennsylvania’s largest teachers union supports 100 percent certification of teachers at charters.

“They’re public schools,” said Wythe Keever, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

But other traditional schools advocates said the issue has been pushed to the back burner in lieu of more pressing items. Those ultimately have to do with charter school funding, and how the various streams affect budgets at traditional public schools.

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