Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Piccola Continues Fight for School Choice Before Leaving Office in PA

Pennsylvania Senator Jeffrey Piccola is finishing his last term as state senator, ending a 36-year career in the Pennsylvania legislature.  But before he leaves, he has some unfinished business to tackle: enacting more school choice in the Keystone State.

Speaking with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Piccola told the newspaper that he would like to see an expansion of the state’s scholarship tax credit program, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, and the enactment of a voucher program.

“We’ve provided all the roadmaps and legislative direction that I think the commonwealth needs to go,” Piccola told the paper. “It just needs [Governor Tom Corbett’s] administration and legislative leadership necessary to enact it.”

Last year, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 1, which passed the Senate by a 27-22 vote in October 2011, would provide vouchers to low-income students attending the bottom 5 percent of the state's worst performing school districts. Parents could use vouchers to send their children to private schools.  The measure also included an expansion of the EITC Program.

Keep reading to watch an interview where Piccola discusses his last few months in office.

The bill, championed by Senators Piccola (R) and Williams (D) failed to pass the House last session and still faces an uphill battle in the House.

As chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Piccola has worked tirelessly to improve education in the Keystone State. First elected to public office in 1977, Senator Piccola served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives before switching to the Senate in 1995. Piccola became chairman on the Senate Education Committee in 2009. As chairman, he has advanced more than 50 bills on education issues including school safety, charter schools, alternative education, and of course—school choice.

“Sen. Williams and I and […] and thousands of Pennsylvanians, are fighting to redefine public education as a broad spectrum of choices that fit the needs of each child according to their parent’s decisions,” said Senator Piccola during his opening remarks on the Senate Education Committee’s hearing on Senate Bill 1.

And what’s Piccola’s hope before he leaves office? The chance to cast a ‘yea’ vote for a school voucher program and Pennsylvania’s children.

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

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