The State Senate Education Committee is holding a series of hearings across Pennsylvania as the legislature prepares to renew the Education Empowerment Act. The current act expires June 30th and it sets the guidelines for schools to follow to meet the federal No Child Left Behind initiative and achieve Adequate Yearly Progress. The act also outlines what the Pennsylvania Department of Education can do to encourage schools and districts to meet those goals and penalize districts that don't meet them. The Senate Committee is hearing testimony about the successes and failures of the current act and exploring changes that might be needed in the reauthorized version.
Senator Andy Dinniman of Chester County is the Democratic Chairman of the Education Committee. He says the intention is to produce the best students..."I believe every student has a fundamental civil right to an education and every school has an obligation to be the best it can be."
Dinniman says if the schools don't make Adequate Yearly Progress, the Empowerment Act is designed to help them...unless it's clear they're not getting the message...."If schools can't bring their students up to an adequate level so they can pass basic exams, then we're going to restructure you. We might close you."
Dinniman says that public tax dollars are being invested in the schools to accomplish a goal and when that goal is not reached it's time to say enough's enough because every child should be given an opportunity to learn.