PHILADELPHIA, SEPT. 10, 2010Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams (D) 8th, a leading advocate in the school reform movement and the architect of Senate Bill 1405, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, will participate in the Students First Conference on September 14 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

“I am looking forward to moderating and participating in a thought provoking discussion with a distinguished panel of nationally renowned education reform experts,” said Williams a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Alliance for Educational Options and widely regarded as the leader of the charter school movement in Pennsylvania.

The Students First panel includes Dr. Howard Fuller, Distinguished Professor of Education at Marquette University, Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, and film producer, Lesley Chilcott, whose credits include “Waiting for Superman,” which will be shown at this event. There will be separate discussions between the panel and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Attorney General Tom Corbett, the Democratic and Republican nominees for Pennsylvania governor. Both gubernatorial candidates have embraced Williams’ call for school vouchers.

Williams is a member of the state education committee, co-sponsor of 88 Education bills and the prime sponsor of 8. Senate Bill 1405 would establish a scholarship program through the Department of Education to provide opportunity scholarships for low-income children who reside in a school district with at least one chronically failing school.

Williams stated, “I am encouraged that this unparalleled group of legislators, stakeholders, educators, and education advocates from across the state of Pennsylvania and beyond will gather to discuss what is the most important issue facing our Commonwealth, providing a quality education for each of our children.”