Read today’s Philadelphia Inquirer piece by Karen Heller on school vouchers and SB-1.
The state Senate passed SB 1 last week, the voucher bill that appears to serve our poorest children attending Pennsylvania’s worst public schools, the majority in Philadelphia, the very institutions whose funding the GOP-controlled legislature sliced and diced earlier this year.
But appearances can run contrary to the truth.
“This has nothing to do with helping the poor children of Philadelphia,” said State Sen. Daylin Leach. “The organizations that are funding the pro-voucher movement are very open that they want to eliminate public schools.”
Almost two-thirds of Pennsylvanians disapprove of vouchers, according to recent polling, and the bill requires passage in the House to become law. Said Democracy Rising PA’s Tim Potts, “The legislators’ interests trump the will of the voters.”
To qualify for vouchers, students must be accepted by private or parochial schools, an achievement critics believe few children at low-performing institutions may accomplish. “Most of the money will go to kids already attending private and parochial schools,” said the Education Law Center’s Baruch Kintisch. “Whenever politics takes over the discussion of education policy, the neediest students always lose.”
An earlier version would have helped families with incomes up to $78,225. Said Potts: “This is intended for middle-class kids who already attend private and parochial schools.”
The voucher bill is merely “let’s get the nose under the camel’s tent,” said public school advocate Larry Feinberg. “Once they get the voucher bill passed, they can expand who qualifies.” When students leave a public school, state funding goes with them.