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What do Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Governor Nicki Haley, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and Mississippi Governor Bryant all have in common? The answer: They are all in full support of statewide education reform. In fact, Governor Daniels has successfully passed reform legislation in Indiana. Which brings me to wonder, where is Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania?
Currently, Pennsylvania spends just shy of $14,000 annually per student, with under half of students proficient in reading and math. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 37% of 4th graders score proficiently in reading and math, while only 40% of 8th graders score proficiently. These numbers are unacceptable!
When Governor Corbett was on the campaign trail, he promised to make education reform a top priority, saying he would not rest until education reform passed. He was going to be the “School Choice Governor,” doing what no other governor in Pennsylvania history had done before: sign a bill that included vouchers.
Governor Corbett claimed to be a supporter of educational opportunity scholarships (or vouchers) and the expansion of the EITC tax credit. He went on the record supporting charter schools. Yet he has failed to get any of these reforms through in over 2 years.
To put that in perspective, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has proposed a reform package featuring 7 bills that would reform teacher tenure, institute a state-wide voucher program, permit tax credits for student scholarships, and reform early childhood education.
Jindal’s reform package passed both the House and Senate Education Committee last week, and is expected to face a full floor vote in both chambers in a week or so.
That’s right. In less than 2 weeks, Governor Jindal will have completely overhauled the entire Louisiana education system while Governor Corbett spent two years accomplishing absolutely nothing.
If Corbett is serious about education reform, he will join this elite group of entrepreneurial Governors and take the lead towards education reform. If Pennsylvania is going to improve its failing schools, it has to start with the Governor. The Governor must be the backbone that drives this reform.
A broad coalition of support for comprehensive education reform exists in Pennsylvania from teachers and parents to community grassroots activists. Not to mention bi-partisan support in the PA Senate.
The progress made across the nation is evidence that governors who stand up for children and boldly support school choice will get meaningful reform passed. Don’t sit on the sideline Governor Corbett. Too much depends on it.