NEWS: Rally for School Choice Tomorrow in Harrisburgh, PA

From The Republican-Herald:

Busloads of students, parents and educators from nine Schuylkill County schools will arrive outside the state Capitol Rotunda building Nov. 15 to support school choice and celebrate the Senate’s approval of Senate Bill 1 during the REACH Foundation’s Rally for School Choice.

“We want to show our support and thank the Senate,” said Jennifer Daubert, director of development at Nativity BVM High School, Pottsville.

In addition to Nativity, the REACH Foundation said students and faculty from McAdoo Catholic Elementary, Assumption BVM, St. Ambrose, Trinity Academy, St. Jerome RegionRal, St. Nicholas, Marian High School and St. Joseph Center for Special Learning will also be at the rally from 1 to 2 p.m.

“We are very excited and looking for a huge turnout,” said Otto V. Banks, executive director of REACH. “The reason for the rally is to push for the passage of Senate Bill 1 and support Gov. Corbett’s education reform plan.”

REACH stands for Road to Educational Achievement Through Choice. The nonprofit foundation was founded in 1991 and, along with its sister organization, the REACH Alliance, is dedicated to ensuring parental choice in education and coordinating efforts to pass school choice legislation.

“A quality education is the most important investment we can make and parents have the right to choose what schools meet their child’s needs,” said Matt Kerr, communications director for the Diocese of Allentown. “The point of the rally is to show our support for the legislation, thank the Senate and encourage more legislative efforts for school choice.”

The foundation includes members from the business community, ethnic and religious organizations, parents and taxpayer groups, and is funded through contributions of citizens, churches and other foundations.

“We are empowering parents to make sure they have the right to make the best choice for their children and make sure that every child has the right to a good education,” Banks said.

Senate Bill 1, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, was approved by the Senate by a 27-22 vote Oct. 26. The bill provides opportunity scholarships, expands the current Educational Tax Credit program and adds several charter school provisions.

“Pennsylvania really needs an overhaul on the education system. Something needed to be done,” Banks said.

Opportunity scholarships will be available for both public and private school choice to low-income students at under-performing schools. The EITC program will receive a multimillion-dollar increase, eventually bringing the program to $125 million and potentially an annual increase of 5 percent thereafter.

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