Jonathan Cetel is the founding executive director of PennCAN. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In PennCAN’s first few whirlwind weeks, we’ve made a lot of headway building support for and awareness around our three policy goals:  Expand High-Quality Choices, Start Smart and Measure Teacher Effectiveness. Here’s a quick update on what exactly we’ve been up to:

Expand High-Quality Choices

We started off rallying at the sixth annual Charter School Day on the Hill. Then earlier this week we joined hundreds of advocates outside of Philadelphia’s City Hall to rally for vouchers and school choice. Together we sent a powerful message to lawmakers: expand high-quality choices for public school students. I echoed this message yesterday in my blog post about why vouchers are good for public school students.

Another big piece of our work is raising public awareness around the need for more high-quality choices. Our issue brief, Expand High-Quality Choices, has a lot of powerful but little-known facts: 30,000 Pennsylvania kids are stuck on charter school waiting lists, for example. 

To spread the word, this mobile billboard drove around the streets of Harrisburg the day we launched.

We’ve also launched online ads targeting communities including Allentown, Erie, Reading, Scranton and York, which would all benefit from voucher legislation. 

Start smart

We celebrated a few weeks ago when the Senate voted to restore $50 million of the Accountability Block Grant, a critical funding source for full-day kindergarten and pre-K programs across the state. Governor Corbett’s original budget eliminated the Accountability Block Grant, which would have forced many districts to shut down their full-day kindergarten and early childhood programs entirely. I sent senators this letter to thank them for protecting these life-changing programs. 

Measure teacher effectiveness

I’ve been meeting with legislators to emphasize the need for meaningful teacher evaluations. We’re also getting ready to publish an issue brief on teacher effectiveness, so stay tuned for that.


Overall we’ve made a lot of progress on our goals, but if we’re going to succeed in enacting them into law, we’ll need your help. Please follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for up-to-the-minute updates on our campaign and how you can get involved, and then encourage your friends to do the same.

Together we will make sure every Pennsylvania child had a great public school, because great schools change everything.




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