Governor Announces Four Part Education Reform Plan

Essential Public Radio Staff October 11, 2011

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has unveiled his long-awaited education proposal, calling it a “long term investment.”  During the announcement at the Lincoln Charter School in York, he said he’s not expecting immediate results.

“We can’t continue down this same path and think that we’re going to get a different result,” Corbett said.  “We have to think and act smarter.  I know we can do better.  We have to have the will to do better.”

The governor wants to put a state commission in charge of approving and overseeing charter schools because he says school districts shouldn’t hold all the power to approve new charters. 

Corbett also wants to see vouchers for students from low-income families to use to pick their school, when they would otherwise be attending one of the state’s worst-performing schools.  But, he adds that vouchers don’t leave public schools high and dry.

“What moves to the new school is the state subsidy,” Corbett said.  “The old school still keeps its taxes in their school district.”

Students whose families earn 130% or less of the federal poverty rate would be eligible for the vouchers.  That’s a family of four earning $29,000 or less annually.  The governor also wants to expand the tax credit program for businesses that fund scholarships.

Corbett says teacher evaluations should be based in part on student performance, and should help determine merit pay and tenure. He says in spite of unacceptable student dropout rates, more than 99% of teachers and school administrators receive the highest possible scores in their job evaluations. 

“These numbers just don’t fit the result.  Right now the evaluation is just a rubber stamp, and it must change,” the governor said.