State Rep. Jim Christiana (R-District 15) was recently honored with the Pennsylvania School Choice Champion Award during National School Choice Week in Lancaster, Pa.
The award, presented by PA CAPE — the Pennsylvania affiliate of the Council on American Private Education — honors a lawmaker “in recognition of his or her strong support of school choice and their advocacy on behalf of Pennsylvania’s school community,” said Aaron Troodler, regional director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center.
Troodler, who is also a PA CAPE member, said that Christiana, who lives in Beaver County, has “demonstrated a strong willingness and desire to ensure all of Pennsylvania’s children get a quality education.”
“It’s always important when you have an ally in government and somebody who is attuned to your community’s needs and concerns — it’s always appropriate and important to express your gratitude accordingly,” Troodler said. “Rep. Christiana is somebody who has really demonstrated the ability to be a strong advocate for our children and our schools, and it really was our pleasure to bestow this honor on him in a very public fashion.”
PA CAPE is comprised of a number of organizations in addition to the OU, including the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, several associations of Christian schools and a group of Montessori schools.
“It’s a small group,” Troodler said, “but it’s really meant as a means by which we can advocate for quality nonpublic education in Pennsylvania and do what we can to promote the right of people [for] the best educational choice for their children.”
Currently, Christiana is the leading sponsor of a bill that would increase funding levels for the state’s EITC (Educational Improvement Tax Credit program), which receives $100 million a year, and OSTC (Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program), which receives $50 million annually.
“The Jewish community benefits immensely from that on an annual basis,” Troodler said, adding that statewide, Jewish day schools receive in excess of $10 million annually from these programs.
Troodler said that is why it is important to work collaboratively with the “diverse array” of organizations that make up PA CAPE because at the end of the day, it’s about the educational opportunities they can provide for all children.
“Regardless of race and ethnicity,” Troodler said, “it’s about coming together and working together for the betterment of all of Pennsylvania’s children and ensuring they have the ability to get a quality education just like every other child.”
Marissa Stern writes for the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.