|April 22, 2015 03:53 PM
|Senator Lloyd K. Smucker
|All Senate members
|The Educational Opportunity and Accountability Act
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to provide relief to families and taxpayers by increasing accountability in our Commonwealth’s lowest-performing schools.
Pennsylvania spends nearly $1.3 billion of taxpayer dollars on schools that consistently produce dismal results. In the bottom five percent of high schools, for example, students are ten times more likely to drop out of school than pass the standardized math exam.
To address this problem, my legislation, known as The Educational Opportunity and Accountability Act, will empower districts with additional tools to lead turnaround efforts in schools with a consistent track record of poor performance. At the discretion of local school boards, districts may manage the school directly or contract with outside educational providers.
For schools that continue to remain in the lowest-performing tier, my legislation will allow these schools to be transferred to a new entity called the Achievement School District (ASD). The ASD will be led by an executive director who reports to a board comprised of appointees selected by the Governor and leaders in the House and Senate. The ASD will have the power to manage the school directly and implement transformative changes or convert to a charter school. The ASD may also authorize new charter schools to serve families living in neighborhoods with schools in the bottom one percent and may close the lowest-performing charter schools without appeal to the Charter School Appeal Board.
Protections are included to ensure that schools already in the process of a turnaround or schools that serve a specialized student population would be ineligible for transfer to the ASD.
Five states have already created similar entities, and two more are considering legislation this session. The idea is catching on because taxpayers are demanding a better return on their investment, and families trapped in consistently low-performing schools are desperate for better options.
If you have any questions, please contact Kelly Phenicie at 787-6535.
Introduced as SB6