Monday, October 17, 2011

Ongoing Pennsylvania School Voucher Coverage

"Anytime the private sector sees a large pot of public money, it wants to get its hands on it," says Tim Potts, a liberal activist who heads the grassroots Democracy Rising. "Why isn't the Corbett administration trying to fix public schools that are broken? Because they want failure so they can better make a case for turning schools over to the private sector . . . it's all about the money. If there wasn't any money, they wouldn't be doing this."

Matt Brouillette, a conservative voucher-backer who runs the free-market think tank Commonwealth Foundation, also says it's about money, different money: "The 800-pound gorilla is the PSEA [the state teachers' union], one of the biggest campaign contributors. Many lawmakers are either on board with them or afraid of an opponent who is . . . remember, vouchers are going mostly to schools with teachers who don't pay union dues."

Posted on Mon, Oct. 17, 2011
John Baer: Vouchers a fundraising opportunity for pols
By John Baer, Philadelphia Daily News, Daily News Political Columnist
THE POLITICS OF vouchers or, as Gov. Corbett insists on calling them, "opportunity scholarships," is a mess.
It's a tug-of-war among ideological and regional teams. Its issues are tied to unions, the Catholic Church, race, geography and, above all, money.

“The governor's voucher plan is not as extensive as some recent legislative proposals, but it shares the same flaws: Funneling tax dollars to religious schools violates the state constitution and schools accepting vouchers won't be required to take any student who applies, a luxury that is not available to public schools.”
Corbett's choice: His funding shift will squeeze public schools
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Friday, October 14, 2011
Gov. Tom Corbett says his education agenda comes down to this: "It needs to be: child, parent, teacher ... and just in that order."
His initiatives, which he outlined during a visit to York on Tuesday, may work for some children but it's hard to see how they will bolster the constitutional principle of a free and public education.

'Spin' game already begun on Corbett's education agenda

By Evan Brandt
To be certain, it is the state legislators who will have to decide what to keep and what to change from the education reform agenda released this week by Gov. Tom Corbett that features tax-funded vouchers to pay for non-traditional public schools as its centerpiece.
But two distinct sides of the debate released timely studies this week that not only support their position on these issues, but seem to be an attempt to influence that legislative debate by influencing public opinion.

Corbett's plan fair approach

Scranton Times-Tribune Opinion Published: October 13, 2011
Allowing families to choose the education that's best for their children should not be limited by a ZIP code or family income. So Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to extend school choice to low-income families whose children are stuck in failing schools should be celebrated by the entire society.
The governor outlined his school-choice initiative Tuesday without key details, including overall cost. But the concept is good enough for the Legislature, including Democrats, to embrace.

Legislators balk at voucher plan

Hazelton Standard Speaker BY JIM DINO (STAFF WRITER)
Published: October 14, 2011
Several local legislators believe a proposed school voucher system is unconstitutional and unaffordable to Pennsylvania.
One answer to saving 144 failing schools in the state may be reorganizing the struggling public schools to make them more responsive to today's student, some say.

PA bishops support Gov. Corbett's tax program

Published: October 15, 2011
Pennsylvania Catholic bishops are applauding Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to create a school voucher program and increase the state's tax credit program.
The governor's plan, which was unveiled this week, will "ensure that ideal educational opportunities are accessible and available to all," the bishops said in a statement released Friday.

Pa. Governor Offers Plan for Vouchers, New Teacher Evaluation

 Sean Cavanagh   | 
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is making the case this week for his education agenda, one that includes core conservative ideas—namely, the promotion of vouchers—as well as concepts that have drawn bipartisan support in other states, such as charter expansion and new approaches to evaluating teachers.

PO EDITORIAL: School vouchers plan lacks much in way of detail

Chambersburg Public Opinion Online, October 11, 2011
According to Associated Press, Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday cited high dropout rates at some individual schools to justify creation of a new entitlement program to shift low-income children to private and better-performing public schools on the taxpayer's dime.
But do we really have a problem with dropout rates in Pennsylvania? The AP reported, after all, that Pennsylvania's 2.6 percent rate is significantly less than the 4.1 percent national average.
OK, so the actual statewide need -- given Corbett's emphasis on the dropout rate -- seems murky. What about details?

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