New program, which became law last month, expands educational opportunities for state's most disadvantaged students
HARRISBURG, Pa., July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 242,000 Pennsylvania students living in the attendance boundary of 414 of the state's worst-performing schools could be eligible to receive a scholarship to attend the private school of their parents' choice, thanks to a new private school choice program created last month.
A total of 414 schools in 74 school districts are eligible to participate in the Educational Opportunity Scholarship Act, a new scholarship tax credit program signed into law last month to complement the existing—and now expanded—Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The new program allows children from low- and middle-income families who live in the attendance area of the lowest-performing 15 percent of Pennsylvania schools to receive a scholarship to attend a participating private school.
Pennsylvania's lowest-performing schools are located in 38 different counties across the state, according to the state Department of Education. Up to $50 million can be donated for scholarships beginning in the fall.
"These newly-released numbers showing just how many students are trapped in failing schools are a clear indication that more educational options are needed in Pennsylvania," said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the American Federation for Children. "We're pleased that the Educational Opportunity Scholarship Act will be joining the state's existing school choice options in the school year ahead."
The new cap for the expanded EITC program, which currently serves more than 40,000 students from low- and middle-income families, will go from $75 million to $100 million beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
The expansion of the EITC program and enactment of the Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit is just the latest in a string of victories for disadvantaged children across the nation. Already in 2012, new programs have been enacted in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Mississippi. Five states—Louisiana, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania— have seen significant expansions this year in private school choice options.
There are 32 publicly-funded private school choice programs across the country in 16 states and the District of Columbia. More than 210,000 children received scholarships through school choice programs during in the 2011-12 school year, a number that is expected to rise dramatically in the 2012-13 school year.
Click here to view the Pennsylvania Department of Education's list of the lowest-performing public schools.
SOURCE American Federation for Children