Science alumni set model for 'Schools of Excellence' revival
One of the saddest casualties of the Great Recession was the state-run summer education program known as the Governor's Schools of Excellence. Since their founding in 1973, the schools had hosted more than 19,000 students for intensive summer sessions, until the Legislature and Gov. Ed Rendell reluctantly red-lined the project in 2009 to save $3.2 million.
Many of the alumni have gone on to rewarding careers in the fields they studied. They include Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron J. Kernis, best-selling author Alice Sebold, actor Kevin Bacon and many other artists, physicians, scientists, business professionals, teachers and academics.
Now one of the schools is about to make a comeback, under a new funding model. Alumni of the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences conducted a fund-raising campaign that produced about $150,000 in corporate and individual donations, and the state Department of Education will match it. The school will resume, from June 30 through Aug. 3, at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, with 56 students selected from hundreds of applicants.
That model should be used for the resumption of the other schools that were canceled in 2009: agricultural sciences, Penn State University; arts, Mercyhurst College; entrepreneurship, Lehigh University; health care, the University of Pittsburgh; information, society and technology, Drexel University; international studies, the University of Pittsburgh; and teaching, Millersville University.
The project is a great way to give some of Pennsylvania's best students a head start on college and careers, through the resources of one of the state's major assets - its universities.
Alumni of the other schools should follow their science brethren's lead. And corporations in the fields related to the schools' specialties should take advantage of the educational improvement tax credit to help fund the schools, as many science-based companies did to help revive the school at Carnegie-Mellon.