Governor Corbett releases education reform plan
October 14, 2011
Harrisburg, PA: Gov. Tom Corbett released his proposal for education reform in which he calls for the government to rearrange the state's education priorities. "It needs to be: child, parent, teacher... and just in that order." The plan is a collaborative effort among the governor's staff, state legislators, and communities across Pennsylvania, designed to foster competition and increase student achievement.
Corbett's plan is broken down into four parts:
- Opportunity Scholarships: These scholarships, or vouchers, provide tuition assistance for eligible students to attend a public or non-public school of their choice. Eligibility would be based on income and residence, and the program targets children in the most at-risk situations and the state's worst-performing schools.
- The Educational Improvement Tax Credit: This program, which has been in effect for more than a decade, provides tax credits to businesses that provide funding for scholarships and other educational improvement organizations. Corbett's proposal increases the EITC to reach more children and provide additional funding to improve education.
- Charter Schools: Charter schools are already in existence in Pennsylvania. This plan would establish a statewide authority charged with approving, licensing, and potentially overseeing charter schools; make it easier to convert buildings to charter schools; and increase accountability of charter schools in terms of student performance.
- Educator Evaluations: The current teacher evaluation system in Pennsylvania has two ratings: satisfactory and unsatisfactory. In the 2009/2010 school year, 99.4% of teachers and 99.2% of principals were rated as satisfactory. The state Department of Education has already begun plans to start a voluntary pilot program to improve evaluation tools. This proposal seeks to expand that pilot program and implement a new statewide method of evaluating teachers. The new system would focus on student performance and classroom observation, and will include rankings of "distinguished," "proficient," needs improvement," and "failing."