FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. James Roebuck
Roebuck unveils alternative to vouchers: 'All Students Can Succeed'
Proposal would help 100 percent of kids in lowest-performing schools instead of just 3 percent, for about same cost as voucher plan
HARRISBURG, Dec. 14 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, today announced his alternative to private-school voucher plans that have been floated in Harrisburg.
"I call my plan 'All Students Can Succeed' because it is designed to help 100 percent of students in Pennsylvania's lowest-performing schools through targeted improvements rather than handing tax-funded private-school vouchers to 3 to 9 percent of the children in those schools and hoping they find private schools that will accept them," Roebuck said.
"All Students Can Succeed would help 100 percent of the kids in these schools for about the same cost of the voucher plans that only cover 3 to 9 percent of the kids, and without violating the state constitution. This would be a win-win for these children and for taxpayers. I believe it can and should receive bipartisan support."
A tentative list of schools that would be affected by All Students Can Succeed is available on Roebuck's website, www.pahouse.com/Roebuck. Click here to view the list.
A summary of the legislation is attached below.
All Students Can Succeed Program Summary
The All Students Can Succeed Program is a comprehensive approach to improving the academic achievement of all students in low-achieving schools through new education strategies and policies and additional education supports including the following initiatives:
Ø Improving school safety;
Ø Establishing and improving alternative education programs;
Ø Increasing parental involvement in schools;
Ø Improving the provision of social services in and outside schools for students;
Ø Improving tutoring services and other academic supports for students in the subject areas of reading and mathematics; and
Ø Incentives for high performing principals and teachers to teach in these schools.
In contrast to proposed school voucher schemes, the All Students Can Succeed Program would help all students in low-achieving schools to succeed rather than just a few students -- 3 to 9 percent over four years -- under school vouchers.
School districts would receive state funding to provide for these initiatives in those schools that are determined to be low-achieving schools. A low-achieving school is a school where less than 50 percent of its students are proficient or advanced on their combined state reading and math assessments. School districts will be required to provide a 20 percent local match of state funds from other public or private funding sources that may include funding from the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.
The state would provide $20 million of funding for the All Students Can Achieve Program in the first year that would be matched by $4 million from the eligible school districts. State funding would increase to $50 million in the second and subsequent years and matched by $10 million from the eligible school districts.
These school districts will be required to implement with state support certain programs in their low-achieving schools, including:
Ø Establishing a School Advisory Council and a school liaison to parents with a majority of members being parents that that will increase parental involvement and advise and assist on student assistance programs.
Ø Establish a School-Wide Positive Behavior Support program to improve school safety.
Ø Placement of disruptive students in alternative education programs or school- based diversion programs with the removal for at least a year of violent students from regular classrooms.
Ø Develop and execute for each low-achieving student a parent-school agreement on measures that the school and the parents will commit to in improving the student’s academic performance.
Ø Provide for after school and summer programs that shall include tutoring of students and other social and academic programs.
Ø Provide intensive academic tutoring for all students who are not proficient in reading and math to bring them up to academic proficiency.
These school districts could also use state funding for the following programs and services in these low-achieving schools:
Ø More and better alternative education programs for disruptive students.
Ø Professional development for teachers and administrators to better communicate and work with students and parents from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Ø Mentoring of students by school employees and community members.
Ø Working with social service agencies to provide support and counseling to students and their families so parents can be more engaged in their child’s education and students can better focus on their schoolwork.
Ø Provide financial incentives up to $20,000 per person to hire or promote principals or teachers to work in their low-achieving school who have a demonstrated history of improving the academic performance of students.
The Department of Education would be required to establish a clearinghouse of effective educational strategies, models and programs that can be used by these low-achieving schools to improve the academic performance of students.
A companion piece of legislation would amend the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program to add a new $10 million tax credit for businesses that contribute to an Education Improvement Organization with an All Students Can Succeed program for a low-achieving school.