Keller criticism

Rep. Fred Keller recently issued statements criticizing President Biden’s energy policies.

He attacked Biden for banning drilling on federally owned lands, which are mostly located in the western U. S. The president actually instituted a moratorium on NEW drilling until his administration can review the leases on our public lands because of low royalties oil and gas companies have been paying the government for decades. With the glut of natural gas on the market, why on earth does he want to drill for more gas out west? Perhaps Keller plans to run for Congress in Colorado.

Keller chided President Biden for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline. This controversial pipeline would carry dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf coast where it would be exported around the world. Why is Keller advocating for a project that mostly benefits a Canadian oil company? Perhaps he plans to run for Congress in Alberta.

Keller also cried about President Biden rejoining the Paris climate accord. He reminds me of the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. Whether Keller likes it or not, the rest of the world is moving ahead with efforts to address the climate crisis. Even major car companies like Ford and General Motors recently announced many of their next generation vehicles will be electrified. Much of the electricity needed to recharge the vehicle batteries will be generated by natural gas produced in Keller’s own district. Perhaps Keller should have run for Congress in the previous century.

Ed Zygmunt

Laceyville

Clearing the air on cyber charter schools

The Feb. 18 article “Frustrations over cyber charter schools continue in Towanda” illustrates that Towanda Area School District Superintendent Dennis Peachey and Business Manager Doreen Secor are either misinformed or are misleading the school board and the public about cyber charter schools.

As public schools, cyber charter schools, like Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), are required by law to address truancy by putting into place policies and procedures to ensure students are actively attending and engaging.

Thousands of students with disabilities attend cyber charter schools. At CCA, teachers interact with students on a daily basis, giving them the ability to discern whether or not students are thriving or require additional, personalized instruction. More than 4,200 students with disabilities attend CCA and receive the programs, services, and support to be successful.

Mr. Peachey’s explanation of how cyber charter schools are funded fails to mention that school districts deduct up to 22 categories of expenses when calculating their charter tuition rates. This fact is important because district payments for students enrolled in CCA are, on average, 25% less than what a district spends per student.

Ms. Secor claims that cyber charter schools “double-dip” for retirement expenses by receiving reimbursement from school districts and the state; she’s wrong. Cyber charter schools only receive a portion of what districts spend on pension costs and not a penny more. The state ended direct reimbursement to cyber charter schools for retirement costs back in 2015.

Mr. Peachey raised concerns about the 37 students attending cyber charter schools, but has he and the school board asked why? If they dig deep, they’ll quickly recognize they need to do a better job serving all students by providing them with high-quality programs.

Mr. Peachey and Ms. Secor need to put down the talking points from the traditional public education establishment organizations and learn first-hand how public cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania are operated and funded.

Thomas D. Longenecker

President and CEO of Commonwealth Charter Academy