Voucher threat still looms
Published September 2011 Voice
Strong opposition from PSEA members and the public at-large derailed Gov. Tom Corbett’s plans to enact a costly tuition voucher plan in June, but pro-voucher forces are pushing hard to pass a bill during the General Assembly’s fall session.
That means that PSEA members need to work even harder to defeat a plan that will take even more state money from the public schools.
“This fight is far from over,” said PSEA President Michael J. Crossey. “It is just beginning. Pro-voucher groups have millions of dollars to spend, and the governor has made vouchers one of his top priorities.
“So, we need to remind everyone who will listen that you can’t cut $860 million from our public schools and then spend hundreds of millions on a voucher program that doesn’t work.”
The facts and public opinion are on our side.
Public support for tuition vouchers has lagged in recent years, with a March 2011 public opinion poll showing that 61 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose the idea. When respondents were asked whether they believed that vouchers were “very effective” in increasing student performance, 86 percent said “No.”
“This is a good sign,” Crossey said. “The public is with us. Now, our job is to tell legislators that—and tell them loudly.”
Crossey pointed out that the advocacy of PSEA members helped to turn the tide against tuition voucher proposals in the spring and summer. PSEA members sent 90,000 emails opposing voucher bills, sent thousands of letters, and made thousands of phone calls.
The effort was so intense that a voucher bill never even came up for a vote in the full state Senate, the chamber where many voucher supporters believed that success was a sure thing.
One thing is for certain. The tuition voucher fight is far from over – and winning is more important than ever.
“With $860 million in cuts to our public schools, the governor is telling us that we need to do a lot more with a lot less,” Crossey said. “We can’t let them take even more money from our schools and spend it on tuition vouchers.
“We need to win this fight. And we need every PSEA member to stand with us in order to do it.”
Here is what you can do to join the fight against tuition vouchers and other bad public policy:
• Stay informed. Sign up for text alerts at psea.org/textalerts or text the word “SCHOOLS” to 24587.
• Get involved. Send an email message. Go to www.psea.org/takeaction to find a sample for your use. It’s quick and easy.
• Mail a letter. Also go to www.psea.org/takeaction to find a suggested letter—your building rep will give you a new one each week.
• Make a phone call. When you get an email or a text asking for quick action, please make the call.