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Governor Unveils Comprehensive Education Plan

CER Press Release
October 11, 2011

Harrisburg, PA. — Acting on his commitment when he was elected Governor of the state of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett today announced a major education package that promises greater flexibility for parents and teachers in the education of the state’s children, and accountability at all levels for substantially greater results.

“It’s a homerun package,” said Jeanne Allen, President of the Center for Education Reform. “The Corbett agenda reflects national best practices in reform, and once enacted, will ensure that all kids have dramatically better chances at real achievement.”

The proposal builds on work begun earlier this year in the legislature, where development of charter and scholarship bills were intensely deliberated in both houses as heavy union opposition deterred some in the legislature from making bigger inroads earlier.

Today’s announcement signifies unprecedented unity among the Governor, the House and the Senate in embracing the core, interdependent tenets that are necessary for any state to improve its schools:

Expanded and meaningful school choices for children, particularly lower and middle-income families.

           • Under the proposed initiatives, students in the lowest five percent of failing schools and their immediate districts would be able to choose the private school of their choice with the funds the state normally sends to their failing schools following the child.
          • An expansion of the popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit, which permits tax paying businesses to contribute to scholarship granting organizations in exchange for tax credits. The scholarship organizations support parents with varying scholarship amounts to ensure their choices are possible, but currently, only about 39,000 students participate.

 

More accountable public education institutions

          • A best practices charter school law that would enable new, publicly accountable authorizers to manage, open and monitor charter schools. Such laws in other states are responsible for the highest number of high quality charter schools. Specifically, the proposal would create a statewide commission and potential for public institutions of higher education to become authorizers and thus partners in public K-12 education
          • Creation of a new teacher evaluation system that would place a greater emphasis on student achievement.

“Today in the US, a growing numbers of policymakers are seeing increased student achievement in states that have adopted similar, bold initiatives in one package,” said Allen. “Last decade, Florida led the pack. This decade, it’s Indiana. Pennsylvania’s entry into the A-Game of Education Reform means its more than 2 million students will have a better future, today.”