Nearly 50 Pennsylvania Catholic schools were represented at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in support of school choice. Hundreds of students, teachers and school staff advocated for school choice legislation that includes a voucher program and an increase to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.

Catholic schools have long been advocates of parental choice in education, seeing it as an issue of social justice because low-income families often treated inequitably.

Governor Tom Corbett opened the press conference by clearing stating his support for school choice. He pointed to the two chambers saying, “I believe (Senate Bill 1) is a great first step in education reform. We’ve got to move it from this end of the building (the Senate) to that end of the building (the House).”

The energy in the rotunda was high as hundreds of students repeated the rallying cry of “SB 1! SB 1” in unison.  On Oct. 26, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, by a vote of 27-22. Senate Bill 1 was then sent to the House Education Committee.  It is currently unknown if the House will use Senate Bill 1 or another piece of legislation to pass education reform that includes vouchers and an increase to EITC.

Dr. Ronald Bowes, Assistant Superintendent for Public Policy and Development, Diocese of Pittsburgh, said “Education should not be left to chance; it should be left to choice!” Bowes also gave the attendees of the rally a homework assignment: visit your representatives in person as soon as possible to voice your support for school choice.

Students and teachers also took the opportunity to visit with their legislators, tour the historic Capitol building and learn about the legislative process.