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  • Expanding School Choice in Pennsylvania

    In the latest efforts to promote school choice for the nation’s children, Pennsylvania state Senators Anthony Williams (D–Philadelphia) and Jeffrey Piccola (R–Dauphin and York) have introduced a plan to provide opportunity scholarships for low-income Pennsylvania students to attend a school of their choice.

    Said Senator Piccola:

    We know we have a group of schools that have been persistently failing, unsafe and falling short in meeting the needs of our kids and families who cannot afford to move to a better school district. … Our plan targets these schools and those students who are trapped.

    According to the American Federation for Children, the bill would provide children from low-income families with a $9,000 scholarship, allowing them to leave the underperforming public schools many of them attend. It would also expand Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, which provides tax credits to businesses that donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations or other education organizations.

    The success of a similar program—the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), which provides scholarships to low-income students in Washington, D.C.—provides strong evidence as to how school choice can open the door to educational success for students.

    Research indicates that schoolchildren in the DCOSP are significantly more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who remain in public school. Ninety-one percent of DCOSP students graduate, compared to 70 percent peers who did not receive a scholarship. Moreover, DCOSP parents report that they are more satisfied with their children’s schools, describing them as safer and more orderly.

    And all this comes at a fraction of the price it costs to send a child to an underperforming D.C. public school. Similarly, the price of the Pennsylvania’s opportunity scholarships would “be lower than the traditional costs of educating children in the public school system.”

    Applauding the effort, Otto V. Banks, executive director of the REACH Alliance, stated:

    Today, the quality of a child’s education in this state depends on their zip code. … [The scholarship program] will help provide more parents the opportunity to choose the best educational path for their children, regardless of where they live.

    And such opportunities need not be limited to one or two states or to a limited number of families. Policymakers across the nation can look to Pennsylvania’s example as they strive to improve educational choice and quality for all children.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Expanding School Choice in Pennsylvania

    1. Bobbie says:

      It really irritates me that government (out of our control but taken from our pockets) run public schools have gotten away with poor quality education for so long. It might help the kids to feel more worth if they earned these scholarships by testing instead of given the scholarships by zip code. It's not discriminating when it is earned.

    2. Karen Bracken says:

      Until we get parents to be parents and direct their children to the importance of education. Until parents start to be parents and get involved in their children's education and create an environment of learning in the home all the money and efforts put in place by our government will not fix the education problem. The real problem is the Union and the fact that parents expect the school system to raise their children and they do not get involved. How many parents have any clue what their children are being taught or better yet what they ARE NOT being taught. You don't have to be rich to teach your children the virtues of education or to support your children and encourage them to learn. But we continue to think that moving these children out of bad schools into good school or by flooding the system with money will fix the problem. Again, most of the problems facing our youth today and for the past 50 years is the destruction of the family which by the way is part of the Communist manifesto.

    3. Linda, California says:

      This plan is a good idea and a step in the right direction. It empowers parents. That is clearly different from what the education establishment has been doing for years, which is establishing themselves as the "experts" in all things having to do with childhood education both academic and moral. Our poor parents have been pushed out of the lives of their children so far that they don't even know that they are capable of raising own children. No wonder they don't take responsibility.

    4. Pingback: Morning Bell: National School Choice Week is Underway | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    5. F Creighton says:

      As a parent who has a daughter in a horrible horrible school district I have to say I am for this so I can get her out. She gets straight A's and has been on the distinguished honor roll list numerous times. Doing this AND having to put up with kids who are horrible,evil, vile animals is even more of an accomplishment. We are poor but not scumbags. I lost my 6 figure job in this economy and now am just trying to make ends meet. Don't judge a poor person.

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