HARRISBURG – Recognizing that too many Pennsylvania students are trapped in failing schools simply because of where they live, the state House has approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) that would provide scholarships to those students.
“Making sure ALL students of the Commonwealth have access to a quality education is vital to their success and the success of this great state,” Owlett said. “We have known for decades that we have failing schools, and we have done nothing about it. Until today.”
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.
“We have many outstanding schools in our Commonwealth, but we cannot ignore those that are failing,” Owlett said. “More importantly, we cannot ignore the students who are stuck in those schools with no other options. They don’t have time to wait for their schools to get better. They need our help now.”
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 Senate for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives