Governor Rendell weighs-in on School Choice

Posted by By at 14 January, at 11 : 19 AM Print

As Governor Ed Rendell noted in Rock The Capital’s one on one interview, he says improving education is his greatest achievement as governor.

While Rendell favors options for parents of Pennsylvania’s school children, he believes that the state’s charter schools effectively offer school choice.

According to Gary Tuma, a spokesman for Gov. Rendell, the governor also considers the state’s current Educational Improvement Tax Credit program to be a useful choice.

These comments come in the wake of the announcement of details of a new school choice plan expected to be presented by Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola, (R- Dauphin and York), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D-Philadelphia). The plan, Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the Opportunity Scholarship Act, would establish scholarships for low-income children in failing schools to attend other public schools, as well as private schools, if theirs is failing. The state subsidy that would have been designated for the child’s public school would instead be used to pay tuition in the school her or his parents choose, under the proposed SB1.

In addition, the proposed legislation would increase the current Educational Improvement Tax Credit program by $25 million, up from $75 million to $100 million in available tax credits.

One problem with school choice, Tuma told RockTheCapital, is that private schools are not required to accept children with discipline issues or other problems.

He noted that Gov. Rendell counts educational efforts as top among his administration’s accomplishments. Tuma said, that during the Rendell administration, money was allocated to support education overall, with funds also specifically targeted to areas proven to aid academic achievement, such as pre-school, full-day kindergarten, tutoring and technology.

Last week, Gov. Rendell announced that Pennsylvania ranked seventh among the states for K-12 student achievement, and ninth overall, citing a national report released by Education Week Magazine.

The report gave Pennsylvania an overall grade of B-, with a score of 80.1. The national score is C, with a grade of 76.3. Pennsylvania’s highest score is “economy and work force,” A, 100, while its lowest score was a C-, or 7, in college readiness.

“The Commonwealth’s continued investment in education is reaping dividends,” Gov. Ed Rendell said.

(Want to know more about grades and statistics, just click on Rock The Capital.)

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