October 24, 2011

Unpopular, expensive, untested voucher plans take public education in the wrong direction

Citing overwhelming public opposition to expensive, untested tuition voucher schemes and to Gov. Tom Corbett’s $860 million in public school funding cuts, PSEA strongly opposes Senate Bill 1, which includes a voucher program with an estimated cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

PSEA President Mike Crossey called on legislators to oppose the legislation scheduled for a possible vote in the state Senate this week, which includes tuition voucher, charter school expansion, and tax credit plans that would take even more funds from local school districts.

“Tuition voucher plans like Senate Bill 1 will put public education in Pennsylvania on the wrong track,” Crossey said. “We need to get public school funding moving in the right direction again and the first step is to reject expensive voucher plans that don’t work.”

Crossey pointed to recent public opinion poll results showing that 65 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose tuition voucher plans. The same poll indicated that 69 percent of respondents opposed Gov. Corbett’s $860 million in public school funding cuts, which have forced school districts to increase class sizes and eliminate programs that work for students.

“When two-thirds of the public say initiatives like Senate Bill 1 are wrong for Pennsylvania’s students, our elected officials should listen,” he said. “We need to do what’s right for our public schools and the 1.7 million students who learn there.”

Crossey said the best way to help Pennsylvania’s struggling schools is to fund programs that are proven to work. He pointed out that Gov. Corbett’s public school funding cuts hit struggling and urban schools the hardest, forcing class size increases and program cuts.

“The state funding cuts hit our struggling schools the hardest,” Crossey said. “How can you help schools by cutting their funding? Tuition voucher plans would take even more money away from those students. It just doesn’t make sense.”

recent study released by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials showed that state funding cuts have forced school districts to increase class sizes, eliminate course offerings, and cut tutoring programs.

“These brutal state funding cuts have consequences on Pennsylvania’s students,” Crossey said. “Tuition voucher plans will take even more money away from our public school students. Educators know it, the public knows it, and we need to make sure that our elected officials know it, too.”




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