On Tuesday, November 13, Jewish leaders from Pennsylvania attended a legislative breakfast featuring an address by Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis. The breakfast, sponsored by the Orthodox Union and its Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), took place at the Citron and Rose Restaurant in Lower Merion.
OU Chairman of the Board Stephen J. Savitsky opened the morning with an overview of the OU's grassroots advocacy efforts and the importance of school choice for the long-term success of the Jewish community and of the nation.
Mr. Savitsky was followed by Pastor Terrence Griffith, President of the Philadelphia Black Clergy. Pastor Griffith explained the importance of the state's tax credit scholarship programs for inner-city, low-income families in failing schools. He proposed a united front on the issue of school choice and pledged to work with the Jewish community to expand options for parents.
Secretary Tomalis discussed Governor Tom Corbett's goal to provide an excellent education to every child in Pennsylvania. He highlighted this year's increase to the state's Educational Improvement Tax Credit from $75 million to $100 million and the creation of the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit funded at $50 million as key components of the governor's education reform plan.
Mr. Tomalis noted that as Education Secretary, he was concerned with the welfare and education of "all students in this commonwealth." He urged everyone in the room to get politically involved -- to contact their legislators and explain the importance of these programs to our community.
Maury Litwack, OU Director of State Political Affairs, stated: "Pennsylvania's tax credit scholarship programs are a lifeline for Jewish parents struggling to afford the best schools for their children, and for the Jewish schools struggling to accept them. I want to thank Pastor Griffith and Secretary Tomalis for addressing our community on the importance of these programs, and for energizing our community to advocate for these programs on a grassroots level."
Elliot Holtz, a lay leader in the OU's Pennsylvania Community Advocacy Network, introduced the speakers and concluded with a plea for the community to join in the OU's advocacy efforts.
From left: Pastor Terrence Griffith; OU Chairman of the Board Stephen Savitsky; and OU State Political Director Maury Litwack
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis addresses the group.
Arielle Frankston-Morris engaging participants in OU efforts.
OU | Enhancing Jewish Life