Pa. lawmakers hear more on school-choice plans

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are hearing testimony this week on school-choice legislation after the push for such a package fizzled right before the summer recess.

    Department of Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis has testified before the House Education Committee on how successful legislation should allow students attending the lowest-performing schools the means to switch–either to another public school or a private school.

    State Rep. Paul Clymer of Bucks County said he might not have supported any school-choice proposals before the panel began hearing testimony. Now however, said the chairman of the education committee, he’s sympathetic to the effort.

    He said he interprets Tomalis’ testimony to mean that passing a school choice bill this fall has Gov. Tom Corbett’s backing.

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    “He has not personally called me and he has not sent any of his staff down to see me about it but I suspect, with Secretary Tomalis being here this morning, that is his design,” Clymer said.

    House Democrats on the committee balk at the notion that providing vouchers for students in failing schools or expanding the tax breaks given to businesses that fund educational scholarships would fix the root problems causing dismal school performance.

    School-choice proponents argue that vouchers, and legislation allowing students to transfer between public schools, are urgently needed by children attending the worst schools in the state.

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