HARRISBURG – A bill that would provide scholarships to students attending the lowest performing schools in the Commonwealth has been approved by the House Education Committee, said Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), prime sponsor of the measure.
“Where a student lives should never determine his or her chances for academic success,” Owlett said. “We owe it to our kids – the future leaders of this Commonwealth and this country – to provide the tools they and their families need to maximize their education.”
View Rep. Owlett’s comments to the House Education Committee here
House Bill 2169
would establish the Lifeline Scholarship to give qualified students and parents the resources to pursue a high-quality education that meets their needs. Under the bill, parents with school-aged children (first through 12th grade) who reside within the attendance area of a district school in the bottom 15% of performance metrics based on state testing would be eligible to receive a scholarship to offset costs associated with choosing an alternative academic setting that meets their child’s individual learning needs.
If a student and his or her family would choose to take the Lifeline Scholarship, the student would receive only the state portion of funding to use toward an education elsewhere. The federal funds and local property tax funds would stay with the school district, giving it more money to invest in improvements that would better serve its remaining students and ultimately help it climb out of the low performance metrics.
“There are some really great schools across the Commonwealth – including several in the district I serve – that are doing a great job for their students,” Owlett said. “The challenge is, every child deserves to attend a great school but too many are unable to do so simply because of where they live.
“It’s not OK to leave those kids there knowing their educational needs are not being met. We cannot allow a child’s ZIP code to determine his or her future,” Owlett said.
Support for Education Opportunity Accounts like the one Owlett is proposing for Pennsylvania is growing, driven in part by parents’ and students’ experiences with education during the pandemic. In a poll conducted earlier this year, 83% of people surveyed voiced support for giving parents the right to remove their children from a failing public school and enroll them in a school that is succeeding academically. Notably, the support is bipartisan, with 91% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats, as well as 84% of Independents, agreeing with giving parents and students more opportunity to pursue a better education option.
This bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler