HARRISBURG, Oct. 26, 2011— The Senate this evening approved legislation (27-22) that would offer comprehensive school choice reform and increased educational opportunities for Pennsylvania students, said the bill’s co-sponsor state Sen. Anthony H. Williams.

“This is a victory for children and families across Pennsylvania. Families should not suffer because their local school is not providing their child with a quality education,” Williams said. “With the Senate’s passage of this bill, these families are one step closer to freeing themselves from the trap of failing education.”

Senate Bill 1 would allow families in low-achieving public schools to take the state tax dollars devoted to their child and apply them to the public or non-public school of their choice.

Williams said the legislation puts children first and holds persistently failing public schools accountable.

“This is about the students and nobody else,” he added. “We’re not taking money away from the schools. The reason parents want to take their children out of a school is because that school doesn’t work.

“I cannot, in good conscience, continue to go along with the status quo of approving education funding and praying that things change,” Williams said. “We’ve waited too long and talked for too long about change. Change must be immediate, and that change began today.”

The bill would also help middle-class students by expanding the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), which provides tax credits to companies that donate money for scholarships or educational improvement.

The legislation also requires several reforms to the state’s charter and cyber charter school law that would address accountability, ethics and governance of charter school boards. It would also require greater disclosure of information from charter school foundations.

Senate Bill 1 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.