Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
No Vouchers for You! --- Independence Hall Tea Party Association Opposed Voucher Bill SB1
No Vouchers for You!
Independence Hall Tea Party Association Opposed Voucher
your goal is to get rid of government schools, SB1 just won’t do......
From: Independence Hall Tea Party Association<firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 1:38 PM Subject: No Voucher For You
November 2, 2011
Dear Members and Friends,
We are only just responding to PA Senate passage of SB1 (on a 27-22 vote) because we have been busy analyzing the 60 pages of amendments to the virtually undecipherable bill. (It's the School Choice version of the ObamaCare.)
Needless to say, we still view the latest version of SB1 as another entitlement program--geared solely to low income children.
In the 2nd year of the program (2013-2014), the bill, as written, raises the number of families who can receive vouchers to those earning 185% of the poverty level or less--provided they live in a school district which includes a persistently failing school. (To heck with students who do not live in such districts, mostly located in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.)
In the 1st year school year (2012-2013), only those students attending the 143 persistently failing schools, whose parental income is not greater than 130% of poverty level (don't you just love the leftist lingo), can receive a voucher.
For us, this is a deal breaker.
While we wish there was the political will and funding for a universal voucher system--or better yet--Educational Savings Accounts that would follow each PA student to the school of his/her choice, the very least a voucher program can do is offer all students attending a persistently failing school an opportunity to escape.
The estimated number of such students is anywhere from 10,000 to
25,000. They are discriminated against, we guess, because their parents pay taxes?
As members of the PA House consider SB1, we hope they will amend the bill to rescue ALL children in the 143 persistently failing public school regardless of income.
When, and if they do, we'll consider supporting the bill.
Meanwhile, Sharon Cherubin, Executive Director of UNITEPA, has written the following insightful analysis. We provided the title.
NO VOUCHERS FOR YOU
As you are aware, the Senate passed the school voucher bill (SB1) last week with 60 pages of amendments. Although the bill has three main parts; vouchers for low-income students, charter school reforms, and an Educational Improvement Tax Credit increase, our focus right now is the inequity in the voucher program. It is being touted that school choice saves lives, yet only low-income families' lives will be saved under SB1. It is unconscionable that our Senators would claim that SB1 would rescue all children from failing schools, when thousands of children will be left behind simply because of their income.
For example, Duquesne Consolidated School students who are low-income would qualify for a $13,905 voucher yet the "working poor" and "middle income families" will be left to fend for themselves in violent failing schools. $13,905 dollars? Why are we subsidizing failing schools, making life or death decisions based solely on income AND handing out $13 thousand dollar checks.
If our legislators truly cared about rescuing students from the bottom 5% labeled persistently failing schools, they would rescue all students who are at risk. SB1 is an atrocity. What is even more disheartening is the fact that the "working poor" and the "middle income" families believe that they are included in SB1. It is highly unlikely that they will ever be included in any choice bill. The government is taking clear advantage of those families who have been able to make that financial sacrifice to send their children to private school. For those families that cannot afford to do so, you are being sentenced to attend a failing school where violence is inevitable.
The Coalition for Real School Choice, a group of 22 grassroots organizations has been focused on rescuing all students from failing schools. We have come to terms with the "voucher" concept simply because our legislators are married to the idea of vouchers and they are incapable of thinking outside the "school choice" box. At this point, the only viable option for rescuing all students from failing schools has been the voucher program. It is our intent to push the envelope and start a new dialogue of Educational Savings Accounts once this debate is settled. We have a lot of work to do this month.