Friday, April 29, 2011

We’ve been sold an expensive bill of goods on vouchers

We've been sold an expensive bill of goods on vouchers

I sat through over 20 hours of Senate Ed Committee and House Policy Committee hearings listening to the same parade of voucher supporters tell us over and over how "SB1 will help kids from disadvantaged families escape their failing schools"

Remember the old bait and switch?  With the latest Corbett-Piccola version of SB1,  the "disadvantaged families" have now become those with incomes up to $78,255.

And "escaping failing schools"?  That has become any private or parochial school that the "poor" kids are already attending, even if they have never set foot in a public school and even if they live in the best performing school districts in the state.

A new analysis of the Senate's Fiscal Note on SB1 by the Education Law Center anticipates that most vouchers will actually end up going to students who are already enrolled in private and parochial schools - not to disadvantaged students from failing schools.

“SB 1 is not really about school choice for families trapped in failing public schools,” said Baruch Kintisch of the Education Law Center. “Instead, the bill is an expensive gift of taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools for the tuition of students who are already enrolled in those schools.”

Click here for the ELC Analysis:

Thanks to your grassroots efforts, StudentsFirst PAC spending over $6 million to buy votes wasn't enough for SB1 to come to a vote in the Senate last week.

But they have very deep pockets and they have enlisted John Brabender,  Governor Corbett's top PR confidant:  StudentsFirstPAC and the Commonwealth Foundation are continuing a full court media press to Privatize Public Education in Pennsylvania.

In addition to targeted mailings, Facebook ads, robo-calls and ads attacking voucher opponents they are running a heavy radio campaign in western PA.

Please keep up your contacts with your Senators and encourage your networks of public education stakeholders to do the same.

Why voucher advocates are allergic to standardized tests
8:58 am April 28, 2011, by Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal Constitution Blog
In Pennsylvania, Republican legislators are pushing through a school vouchers bill that would divert increasingly scarce state education dollars to private and parochial schools. The move itself is controversial, but at the moment I'd like to focus on one particular aspect of the debate, as reported by the Hazleton Standard Speaker:
"The panel defeated an amendment by Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald, to have choice students who attend a private or parochial school take the Pennsylvania State Standardized Assessment given periodically in public schools. That way there would be an equitable standard to measure academic performance, he added."

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