From our breaking news site, Eleanor Chute and I take a first look at Corbett's four-part education plan:
Gov. Tom Corbett today presented an education plan that calls for more charter school accountability; expanded tax credits to companies to help nonpublic schools; opportunity scholarships aimed at enabling low- and moderate-income students in failing schools to attend other public or nonpublic schools; and a new system for evaluating teachers.
Mr. Corbett made his announcement at Lincoln Charter School in York.
"We can't continue down this same path and think we're going to get a different result," he said. "We have to think and act smarter."
Mr. Corbett said he believes he has the support to get the proposals through the legislature in the next few months.
Many of the ideas are ones the administration and legislators have discussed in the past. He did not revive a proposal to permit teacher layoffs due to economic necessity.
For charter schools, he wants to create a statewide authorization entity. Currently, charter schools, which are public schools, receive a charter from local school districts. He also wants to increase the academic requirements for charter schools.
For the tax credits, he wants to expand the amount available beyond the current $75 million a year in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program. This money can be used to provide scholarships to nonpublic schools.
He would like to create Opportunity Scholarships which would enable students in the lowest performing 5 percent of schools to go to other public or nonpublic schools. The students also would have to meet certain low or moderate income requirements.
The schools would not be required to accept the students.
On educator evaluations, Mr. Corbett noted that 99.4 percent of teachers and 99.2 percent of principals statewide are rated as satisfactory. He believes test scores are too low to justify such ratings.
The new evaluation system would include student performance and traditional classroom observation.
The ratings would be given as distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing.