HARRISBURG, Pa. — Dozens of supporters will rally today in Harrisburg in support of The Excellent Education for All Act to highlight how the bill would create scholarships based on educational opportunity accounts for vulnerable students.
State Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin County) is the primary sponsor of the bill, also known as House Bill 1. He introduced it in Aug. 2021 to ensure all Pennsylvania students have access to an excellent education.
The pandemic changed a lot of things, including education. From increased homeschooling, a greater use of learning pods, hybrid schooling, students and their families have found new ways receive their education. However, some Republican state lawmakers want children to have greater educational opportunities and parents to have a role in them.
“Pennsylvania is fortunate to have fantastic schools that come in different forms," Rep. Lewis said. "If passed into law, House Bill 1 would give families access to scholarships that give them more options."
The "Excellent Education for All Act," proposes increasing the Education Improvement Tax Credit program to $225 million from $55 million and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit to $150 million from $55 million.
According to the Commonwealth Foundation, nearly 43,000 scholarship applications were denied due to the current limits on the tax credit programs.
The bill also seeks to increase reform in charter schools and protect learning pods to enhance student education without state regulation.
Learning pods were heavily used during the peak of the pandemic as online learning became the norm. These pods are also known as "pandemic pods." They include small groups of students who learn in person with the help of a tutor or instructor.
While this may be a more feasible incentive for many parents, sponsors of House Bill 1 will work to protect its existence without making it become mandatory.
The Pennsylvania School Education Association has voiced its opinion on the incentive and has publicly said the legislation would divert huge amounts of taxpayer dollars from public schools into private school tuition, and tax breaks for businesses. The association says currently, this is the worst time to push this motion as state educators continue to work through trials of the pandemic.
The bill sits in the House Education Committee and awaits further review.