Students, families, and elected officials come out in strong support of expanded school choice
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students, parents, and school choice advocates descended on the state capitol yesterday to rally for expanded educational options, urging the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to pass the sweeping school choice bill that would create a new statewide voucher program for children in low-income families and expand the popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.
The American Federation for Children—the nation's voice for school choice—applauded the large turnout of students, families, policymakers, and school choice advocates who rallied for legislation to empower thousands of families across Pennsylvania to choose the school that best fits their children's educational needs.
"Families in Pennsylvania are calling on their elected officials to act now on behalf of disadvantaged children and give them the opportunity to attend great schools," said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. "We stand with these families and urge the House of Representatives to pass Senate Bill 1."
The bill would grant scholarships to children in the bottom five percent of Pennsylvania schools and increase funding for the state's EITC program. It passed the Senate earlier this month with bipartisan support.
Governor Tom Corbett—who introduced a comprehensive education reform package last month—was joined at the rally by Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis, and Representatives Jim Christiana (R) and Tony Payton (D). Representative Vanessa Brown (D), a single mother, told attendees how her child was failing in a public school and the need for all options for parents.
Senators Jeffrey Piccola (R) and Anthony Williams (D), the Senate champions of the school choice bill, spoke at yesterday's rally in support of this critically important legislation. Williams emphasized that parents do not have time to wait for educational options and called on House leadership to pass Senate Bill 1.
By the second year of the program, students who live in districts containing the state's worst-performing schools would be eligible to receive a scholarship. By the seventh year, all students attending schools that score in the bottom half on math and reading tests would be eligible to participate.
The bill also increases EITC Program funding by $25 million next year and an additional $25 million in 2014. Last year, the program helped more than 42,000 low- and middle income students attend high-quality private schools.
SOURCE American Federation for Children