Bipartisan support advances measure in Education Committee; Full Senate vote tomorrow
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Federation for Children (AFC) today called on the Pennsylvania State Senate to immediately pass legislation that would create the state's first school voucher program for children in failing schools and significantly expand the Keystone State's highly-successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.
AFC—the nation's voice for school choice—joins Pennsylvania allies Students First PA (http://www.studentsfirstpa.com/) and the REACH Alliance in urging legislators to support the measure.
The legislation, an amendment to a proposed school choice expansion plan introduced earlier this year, was sponsored by the bipartisan team of Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola (R) and Sen. Anthony Williams (D). It would build upon the provisions of Senate Bill 1—the bill introduced by Piccola and Williams earlier this year—which called for the creation of a voucher program for students in the bottom five percent of Pennsylvania schools.
New stipulations would include expanded scholarship availability in the second year of the voucher program, as well as an additional measure that would significantly increase the number of eligible schools in the program's seventh year.
"Under these provisions, kids who are in the most difficult educational environments will finally have the opportunity to prosper that every child deserves," said Betsy DeVos, chairman of AFC. "That is why it is of paramount importance to thousands of struggling Pennsylvania students that the State Senate passes the amendment to Senate Bill 1. We applaud Sens. Williams and Piccola for their efforts, and urge their colleagues to follow their lead."
In addition to a new voucher program, the amendment would also increase funding for the EITC program by $25 million in the first year and an additional $25 million in year three. Last school year, the EITC Program helped over 42,000 low-income students attend the school of their parents' choice.
Also included in the plan are changes to the state's Charter and Cyber Charter School Law, allowing for the creation of more charter schools as well as rules requiring strengthened academic and financial accountability.
The reforms are all part of Gov. Tom Corbett's recently-announced education reform package. Last month, the governor called passing a school choice plan his number one priority of the fall legislative session.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure tomorrow.
SOURCE American Federation for Children