|Posted:||February 25, 2021 01:10 PM|
|From:||Representative Andrew Lewis|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Excellent Education for All Act|
|All students deserve an excellent education. No matter a child’s ZIP code, educational needs, or income, they should have access to the best schools and quality teaching that will give them the potential to succeed and the opportunities they deserve.
Now more than ever, we’re seeing that in order to best prepare the next generation, we cannot take a one size fits all approach to education. There is no denying that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the need for increased educational opportunity.
To best serve the education needs of ALL students during and after the coronavirus pandemic, we must empower parents so they can choose the educational options that work best for their children.
In the near future, I am introducing comprehensive legislation called “The Excellent Education for All Act”, which would put parents in the driver’s seat of their children’s education by providing additional resources for our most vulnerable students, while ensuring all families have equal access and maximum flexibility in schooling options.
While each aspect of the bill is explained in greater detail below, the key components include:
Targeted Educational Opportunity Accounts (EOAs)
Every child deserves a fair opportunity to succeed, no matter their background, their family’s income, or their ZIP code. Parents should be able to customize their child’s education to fit their individual needs. One way to ensure every student has access to high quality educational opportunities is through educational opportunity accounts (EOAs). EOAs allow parents to access the school, services, and tools their children need to meet their individual learning needs. Targeted EOAs focus on Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable students, ensuring they too have a chance at a quality education.
Targeted EOAs would focus on providing flexible support and resources to the following children and their parents:
Expanding Pennsylvania’s Successful Tax Credit Scholarship Programs
Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarship programs allow businesses and community leaders to support educational opportunity and Pennsylvania schoolchildren. Unfortunately, the existing program caps are holding back students in need of support. Last year alone, 43,000 students applied for scholarships but were denied—often through a lottery system. At the same time, there is a waiting list of more than $121 million to donate funds under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC).
Expanding the EITC/OSTC programs and basing program limits on student need will ensure Pennsylvania low-income students won’t be left on waitlists, longing for better educational opportunities.
Enhanced EITC and OSTC programs would:
Charter School Innovation
Charter schools have proven to be the best educational option for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania students. While charter schools are successful and popular, teachers, parents, and educational opportunity advocates should have more access to founding and maintaining quality charter schools in their community.
Charter school innovations would:
Learning Pod Protections
The coronavirus pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for education. Many students and families experienced frustrations with online learning. As a result, many families turned to homeschooling and “learning pods,” which give small groups of students the chance to safely interact with their peers both in-person and online.
The Learning Pod Protection provisions would:
Kids deserve to attend the school that’s best for them. Yet, local school boards currently determine which students are eligible to attend public schools in each district. The Free Districts Act would allow Pennsylvania students to access the public school that best fits their needs, regardless of ZIP code.
The Free Districts provision would:
Introduced as HB1