Governor Wolf allowed HB 178, an act amending Pennsylvania’s Public School Code, to become law on Sunday. The bill is a big win for Pennsylvania's families. It includes three significant reforms: the expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), protecting successful teachers through seniority reform, and charter school consolidation.
Why should we celebrate these reforms? As Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan put it, “The times they are a-changin.'” More Pennsylvanians are recognizing the need to transform our one-size-fits-all education system. We need an individualized and flexible approach to education, not a factory model that groups kids by zip code and age.
The EITC expansion and charter school consolidation provisions give families access to more educational options. Enabling students to attend the school that best fits their needs will help with cultivating their individual talents and set them up for future success.
Similarly, allowing districts to furlough teachers based on success instead of seniority will improve schools by ensuring the best teachers aren’t let go before the teachers struggling with their performance. Children deserve access to the best possible teachers, and HB 178 helps districts retain those teachers.
From historic pension reform to the recent changes discussed above, 2017 has been a year of change in Pennsylvania. And lawmakers can build on this year's achievements with another key education reform: Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
Pennsylvania needs to continue to strive for complete parental control in education. ESAs could help make this dream a reality.
So let’s take a moment to celebrate this step forward. But let’s also acknowledge the long road ahead in ensuring every Pennsylvania child has access to a quality education.
Times are a-changin’, and we can’t allow our children to be left behind.