Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Disappointing Outcome in Pennsylvania

Students all across the Keystone State were last night forced to take a giant step backward when it comes to educational options, as the Pennsylvania House of Representatives failed to pass—or even vote on—legislation that would create and expand much-needed educational choices.

What did the Pennsylvania legislature have the opportunity to do?

To provide scholarships to low-income students stuck in the state’s worst-performing schools; to expand the highly-popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program; and to create a state commission that would authorize charter schools, providing yet another options for Pennsylvania families.

In the Senate, similar legislation—which passed in October with bipartisan support—would grant scholarships to students in the bottom five percent of Pennsylvania schools and expand the highly-popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.

But in order to become law, families across the state needed the House to act.

And although it looks like the House of Representatives won’t be able to get the job done this year, the state’s elected officials still have a commitment to students to provide them with a quality education to all students

The Governor’s office is on the same page, according to The Patriot News:
We expect the House leadership to live up to their commitment to the children of Pennsylvania and the governor to run and pass a school-choice bill as quickly as possible.
And we are not letting anyone give up on that commitment to our children.

Educational options in the Keystone State are imperative, and here’s why:
  • Only 41 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading.  That number drops to 38 percent for eigth graders.
  • In Philadelphia, only 13 percent of fourth graders and 16 percent of eighth graders are proficient in reading.  When it comes to math, the picture isn't much better: 20 and 18 percent of fourth and eighth graders, respectively, are proficient.
  • More than 37 percent of students are eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program and 11.4 percent of Pennsylvanians live in poverty.
These facts are dismal, but the support for real education reform is strong.  Just last month, the REACH Alliance held a rally at the State Capitol calling on the House to pass school choice legislation.

And the American Federation f or Children—along with school choice advocates, families, and our children—is ready to keep on fighting until more educational options are available in the Keystone State.

The Pennsylvania legislature reconvenes on January 3, when we’ll be ready to remind legislators of their duty to  pass this important plan.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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