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Pennsylvania moving toward school choice with Corbett's education plan
Corbett's proposal follows up his May 9 speech to the American Federation for Children, where the governor criticized the "teacher -- parent -- child" focus of America's public education and noted high drop-out rates (45% in Philadelphia) stemming from a system he equated with "the very definition of insanity--doing the same, wrong-headed thing over and over again expecting a different result." The governor's emphasis on school choice looks to be a hopeful move away from that same cycle of top-down priorities that keeps families from making their own decisions; decisions focused on the best interests of their students.
The voucher system in particular could be a way for Pennsylvania to streamline its budget, as vouchers allow families to withdraw their children from low-performing schools and enroll them in schools that are providing better education with their funds. Because vouchers increase the competition between schools, they help states get the most out of their education budgets by channeling funds to high-performing schools, rather than supporting schools turning out less-than-desired results.
Gov. Corbett's plan is likely to receive a high level of opposition, both for its inclusion of the controversial voucher system that allows parents to choose superior schools for their children--schools that can be religious or private--and for the governor's attack on the current teacher evaluation system that he claims allows too many under-performing teachers to slip through the cracks. The governor has also slashed Pennsylvania's public education budget, leading to more criticism from teachers and administrators. But Gov. Corbett's education plan, with its emphasis on school choice and opportunity, definitely has its priorities straight: "child, parent, teacher…and just in that order."