The state Senate’s Education Committee held a hearing on Oct. 13 to discuss the future of proposed Senate Bill 1405, which would amend current state law to allow for a publicly funded voucher program in Pennsylvania. The bill was proposed by Sen. Anthony Williams who, along with Sen. Andrew Dinniman and Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, led the hearing.
A group of high-powered philanthropists, business leaders, public officials, and educators say they have the financial and political clout – and the determination to support schools that “work” and close down schools that don’t – to make Philadelphia the highest-performing urban district in the nation within five years.
School choice, including taxpayer-funded vouchers for students to attend non-public schools, has dominated the education discussion in the Pennsylvania campaign for governor.
Whether or not this was the case, the joint appearance at the National Constitution Center of Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato was marked not by strong policy differences - both generally backed Watkins' school choice advocacy group's “wish list” - but by emphasis and nuance.
Janette Rivera, the 2010 valedictorian of Kensington High School of Business and Finance, knows the difference between a good school and one that is not so good. A Philly native, she left the city at age seven for Massachusetts, only to return just in time for high school.
“Stuff we learned in two months there, we learn in six months here [in Philadelphia],” she said, sitting outside the skyscraper housing Independence Blue Cross/Blue Shield, where for the last three summers she has interned for its CEO, Joseph A. Frick.
The progress of the voucher movement in Pennsylvania reminds me of an old adage that my neighbor shared with me the first time I planted ivy in my garden. Ivy sleeps when you first plant it. After a while it starts to creep. Eventually it leaps all over your garden. Like ivy, the voucher movement’s roots have begun to take hold and gain attention in the future landscape of Pennsylvania schooling.
"Waiting for 'Superman'," this year's highly touted education documentary, had a preview screening in Philadelphia Tuesday night, and its producer, Lesley Chilcott, clearly hopes it can have as big an impact on US schools as her previous collaboration with director Davis Guggenheim on "An Inconvenient Truth" had on awareness of the climate crisis.
State Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D-Philadelphia) has continued his advocacy for school vouchers in Pennsylvania by introducing the Opportunity Scholarship Act. Senate Bill 1405, introduced last month, would require the Department of Education to create an opportunity scholarship program for low-income students in districts with at least one chronically failing school.
Those of us who have been following the education world in Philadelphia for any length of time know that it has changed drastically just in the past decade. Catholic schools are on the wane. Charter schools are on the rise. And the public school system itself has undergone huge upheavals -- a state takeover, the advent of private management in some low-performing schools, the creation of dozens of additional high schools under Paul Vallas.
Ericka Morris, mejor conocida por los estudiantes de 4to grado como la maestra Ericka, sabe cómo atrapar la atención de sus estudiantes. Este día en la Escuela Chárter Independence, están de pie en grupos fuera de la letra U formada por sus escritorios.