Meet Willie and Penny, two typical school students in Pennsylvania. Willie is a student from Philadelphia who attends one of the state’s worst violent, failing schools, where students are five times as likely to be raped, assaulted or experience another violent crime. His next-door neighbor Penny would have gone to the same school, but luckily, she won a scholarship in a lottery to attend a better, safer school.
Lawmakers can still rescue Willie and tens of thousands of students like him. They can pass HB 2468, which would expand the $75 million Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) that gives businesses tax credits when they donate to scholarships and educational improvement programs. The expansion would create new opportunity scholarships for students like Willie, who are trapped in the state’s worst schools because of their ZIP code.
The immensely popular EITC program now provides 40,000 children in Pennsylvania with scholarships, and would not affect public school funding. Increasing the EITC credit cap by $125 million, as proposed for 2012-13 would take less funding than Pennsylvania’s $26 billion public school system spends in just one day.
Giving students like Willie a decent education doesn’t just save Willie, it saves taxpayers money. Opportunity scholarships cost a fraction of what we spend to educate students now, improve student performance, and save on expenses in the future, because high school dropouts are more likely to be on welfare or go to prison.
Help Willie and Penny read. Watch the video to see why they—and Pennsylvania—need opportunity scholarships now.