Former PA House Speaker Bob O’Donnell Joins Commonwealth Foundation

HARRISBURG, PA — The Commonwealth Foundation is pleased to announce that former Democratic Pennsylvania House Speaker Robert W. O’Donnell has joined its Center for Educational Excellence as a senior fellow. A Philadelphia-based attorney who served nearly two decades in the Pennsylvania legislature, Mr. O’Donnell rose through the ranks of leadership, serving as caucus chairman, majority whip, majority leader and Speaker of the House, and is admired and respected on both sides of the aisle.

Robert W. O'Donnell

Robert W. O’Donnell

“School choice is not a partisan issue,” said O’Donnell. “It cuts across ideological lines. We know that our schools are failing too many of our kids. We also know that it is our most vulnerable, at-risk kids who unfortunately tend to be warehoused into substandard schools. Our goal at the Center for Educational Excellence is to ensure that every student in the Commonwealth has access to the best education possible, regardless of their household income or the neighborhood in which they happen to live. Kids shouldn’t be consigned to a failing school because of geography.”

For too long, public education has received a blank check from its citizenry, with very little input or oversight from the taxpayers—and parents—who foot the bills. Under Mr. O’Donnell, the Center for Educational Excellence will focus on implementing reforms that will increase parental choice in education, and refashion the parent-school relationship into more of a consumer-business dynamic, allowing parents to choose the school they feel will best serve their children—be it public, private, charter, cyber or home—with the expectation that forcing schools to compete for students (and the funds that come with them) will incentivize higher standards, both in the classrooms and in the hiring of those who oversee them.

“Pennsylvania’s students—and their parents—have no better friend than Bob O’Donnell,” said Commonwealth Foundation President and CEO Matthew J. Brouillette. “Bob is a tireless and passionate advocate for parental choice in education. Without school choice, any other education ‘reform’ is just window dressing. If parents can’t decide where and how best to educate their own children, then who gets to make that decision?”

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The Commonwealth Foundation ( is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.