Sen. Piccola: Charter schools follow 'Freedom Road'

May 11, 2010, 10:28 ET from Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School

Pa. Senate Education chair visits PA Cyber, Lincoln Park charter schools

Making that turn onto Freedom Road brought me right into Midland ... one of the great examples of what freedom in education can do." - State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola

MIDLAND, Pa., May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Charter schools and their students are succeeding because they follow "Freedom Road," Pennsylvania State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) told an audience of 700 students, teachers and administrators during a visit to the PA Cyber and Lincoln Park Performing Arts charter schools.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School CEO Dr. Nick Trombetta called Sen. Piccola a champion for charter schools and assured him of support from the charter community as he guides new legislation to improve accountability and oversight of charter schools.

Accompanying Piccola on the May 7 tour were two local state legislators, State Sen. Elder A. Vogel Jr. (R-47) and State Rep. Jim Marshall (R-14).

Making his first visit to the two Midland-based charter schools, the Senate Education Committee chairman said he traveled that morning by car from Wexford, Pa., after visiting grandchildren there.

"When I left, my GPS told me to take a turn onto Freedom Road," he told a full-house audience in the mainstage theater of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. "What a wonderful metaphor. Making that turn onto Freedom Road brought me right into Midland ... one of the great examples of what freedom in education can do."

Piccola said charter schools such as PA Cyber and Lincoln Park "create a model where you make the choice, your parents make the choice, to obtain an education which is in the best interests of you. In a free society the more shackles and more restrictions and more regulations that are put on your freedom, the less opportunity you, your peers and your parents have to maximize your talents."

Piccola said when he helped write the Pennsylvania charter school law in 1997 and the cyber charter school law in 2002 "we were going down uncharted paths, but instinctively I knew we were going down the path to freedom. I didn't have faith in any particular system or any particular institution. I had my faith in the concept of freedom."

He asked students to remember one thing from his visit: that their opportunity to attend PA Cyber or Lincoln Park "came about because of being on that road to freedom."

Dr. Trombetta called Sen. Piccola a "best friend of school choice" and "a champion for us, for the 75,000 charter school students and their families statewide, and for families in all schools in Pennsylvania."

He told Piccola, "I know you are working very hard on new legislation that will make all charter schools better. We support you, we are going to continue to make you proud, and wherever you go, we are going to follow you down that road."

On May 4 the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Piccola and Minority Chairman Andrew Dinniman (D-19), unanimously approved a bill introduced by Piccola and Dinniman to crack down on financial abuses and increase transparency among the state's 135 charter schools.

The legislators were serenaded at the door by the Lincoln Park Steel Drum Band. Student performers in Lincoln Park Performing Art Charter School's spring musical, "Bye Bye Birdie," took the stage to perform the first song in that show, "The Telephone Hour," and members of the Lincoln Park Chorus sang the national anthem.

"The charter school movement in Pennsylvania is strong and successful, and provides high-quality, innovative choices for students and families," Piccola said. "Our bill should go a long way in preserving high-quality choices for young children and families."

Contact Communications Coordinator Fred Miller, 724.643.1180, ext. 1377.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School