You’ve seen me write before about 2011 as the “Year of School Choice”, right? That summertime proclamation came about the same time as the Pennsylvania legislature stalled on a major proposal to create school vouchers, though so many other states created or expanded educational choice programs. Well, maybe — and let me emphasize maybe — the Keystone State will take the chance this year to redeem itself and put some icing on the “Year of School Choice” cake!
Earlier this week the Pennsylvania state senate voted 27-22 to approve a plan that “provides vouchers to low-income students attending the bottom 5 percent of the state’s worst performing school districts in achievement tests,” reports the American Federation for Children. The legislation also would expand the state’s large and highly successful tuition tax credit program.
Writing for the Daily Caller, Andrew Campanella explains how the momentum behind this legislative proposal shows how school choice has risen above traditional political barriers to find increasing support in “blue states”:
Led by a Democrat and a Republican, a school voucher bill — yes, a voucher bill — passed out of the State Senate with bipartisan support, just one day after the legislation (Senate Bill 1) was approved in the Senate Education Committee.
This all happened in the Keystone State, a state that voted for President Obama in 2008 by more than 10 percentage points. In fact, the last time the state voted for a Republican for president, there was still a superpower called the Soviet Union and the sitcom “Full House” was in its first season.
I have to admit that TV show is before my time, though when I mentioned it to my parents and my Education Policy Center friends it brought out some chuckles. Apparently the show starred a little girl (yuck!) who always said “You got it, dude,” when she liked what someone else had to say, and predictably played the conscience of the big people on the show with the line: “You’re in big trouble, Mister!”
The bipartisan plan that passed the state senate is supported by Governor Tom Corbett — whom RiShawn Biddle notes is stepping up this time around to take a stand for school choice and parent power. That leaves the state house as the big X factor to determine the fate of a program designed to offer an educational rescue to many of Pennsylvania’s most disadvantaged students.
As much as it pains me to do so, let me conclude by giving both the Pennsylvania state senate and Mr. Campanella a big “You got it, dude.” And if they end up killing this school choice bill, you can bet I’ll be telling off the Pennsylvania state house: “You’re in big trouble, Mister!” Hey, I’m twice as cute as that little girl (girls?) was. Not to mention less bratty and more successful in using my adorable precociousness in support of a terrific cause!