HARRISBURG– State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, today announced his alternative to private-school voucher plans that have been floated in Harrisburg.
“I call my plan ‘All Students Can Succeed’ because it is designed to help 100 percent of students in Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing schools through targeted improvements rather than handing tax-funded private-school vouchers to 3 to 9 percent of the children in those schools and hoping they find private schools that will accept them,” Roebuck said.
All Students Can Succeed would help 100 percent of the kids in these schools for about the same cost of the voucher plans that only cover 3 to 9 percent of the kids, and without violating the state constitution. This would be a win-win for these children and for taxpayers. I believe it can and should receive bipartisan support.”
All Students Can Succeed Program Summary (partial summary)
The All Students Can Succeed Program is a comprehensive approach to improving the academic achievement of all students in low-achieving schools through new education strategies and policies and additional education supports including the following initiatives:
- Improving school safety;
- Establishing and improving alternative education programs;
- Increasing parental involvement in schools;
- Improving the provision of social services in and outside schools for students;
- Improving tutoring services and other academic supports for students in the subject areas of reading and mathematics; and
- Incentives for high performing principals and teachers to teach in these schools.
In contrast to proposed school voucher schemes, the All Students Can Succeed Program would help all students in low-achieving schools to succeed rather than just a few students — 3 to 9 percent over four years — under school vouchers.
School districts would receive state funding to provide for these initiatives in those schools that are determined to be low-achieving schools. A low-achieving school is a school where less than 50 percent of its students are proficient or advanced on their combined state reading and math assessments. School districts will be required to provide a 20 percent local match of state funds from other public or private funding sources that may include funding from the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.
The state would provide $20 million of funding for the All Students Can Achieve Program in the first year that would be matched by $4 million from the eligible school districts. State funding would increase to $50 million in the second and subsequent years and matched by $10 million from the eligible school districts.
The Department of Education would be required to establish a clearinghouse of effective educational strategies, models and programs that can be used by these low-achieving schools to improve the academic performance of students.
A companion piece of legislation would amend the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program to add a new $10 million tax credit for businesses that contribute to an Education Improvement Organization with an All Students Can Succeed program for a low-achieving school.
For a complete summary of the legislation, see www.pahouse.com/Roebuck.