Last week the Governor outlined his plan for education. It included plans to implement a voucher program, expand the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) program, and make changes to the way charter schools are approved and regulated, in ways that could take away community oversight. But as State Senator Piccola mentioned, “This isn’t anything new.” Vouchers are still an breathtakingly expensive program that has no evidence of successfully increasing student achievement. After having more than $900 million cut in state funding for public schools, Pennsylvanians cannot afford it.
We know that every child, not just some select children, should get an opportunity to learn, regardless of where they live and how much money their parents make. The critical problem with vouchers is that they don’t solve the problem. It turns a blind eye to the fact that we have significant opportunity gap. What is worse than that? We know what we should be doing and are simply flat out refusing to do it.
By nearly a 2-1 margin, Pennsylvanians oppose vouchers. A recent poll by Terry Madonna Opinion Research shows that (65%) strongly oppose and (43%) somewhat oppose the use of tax dollars to send to school to private school. This poll strongly reflects a recent national PDK/Gallup poll that was recently released that stated that only one of three Americans favor allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend with public dollars. Despite this opposition to vouchers, Corbett seems more concerned with catering to a few special interests rather than what his constituents want or need.
The Governor is hoping to change the way charter schools are governed, allowing an expansion of authorizers that could take away a community’s ability to have a say in how schools are handled (so much for “choice” eh?). This will force local taxpayers to pay for charter schools that never had input from local voters.
Vouchers take precious state resources away from children in traditional public schools and are not an effective strategy in closing the opportunity gap: they don’t raise student achievement, they reduce the rights of students, they are unconstitutional and they are expensive. We need REAL solutions that support all of Pennsylvania’s students and are proven to work. Every child deserves an equal opportunity for a successful future.