PSEA president speaks out against push for private school tuition vouchers

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PSEA president speaks out against push for private school tuition vouchers

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HARRISBURG, PA (June 23, 2023) – A “lifeline scholarship” tuition voucher proposal that Senate Republicans have made a top priority in state budget negotiations is irresponsible and unacceptable and will not become law if anti-voucher lawmakers in the state House continue to oppose it, PSEA President Rich Askey said Friday.

“PSEA is absolutely opposed to ‘lifeline scholarships’ or any other tuition voucher scheme,” Askey said. “We disagree with Gov. Shapiro and Sec. Mumin on lifeline scholarships, and we’ve made that clear to them. We are incredibly disappointed that Sec. Mumin has suggested that Gov. Shapiro could be the first governor in Pennsylvania history to sign a school voucher bill.

“The Commonwealth Court recently ruled that Pennsylvania’s public schools are underfunded by billions of dollars in violation of the state constitution. Anything that distracts lawmakers from finding ways to meet their constitutional obligation is something that 1.7 million public school students can’t afford and PSEA won’t tolerate.”

Askey emphasized that the key to defeating a “lifeline scholarship” tuition voucher bill is the Pennsylvania House and the state representatives who have traditionally opposed voucher schemes.

“A large group of lawmakers in the House has voted against voucher schemes like this in the past,” Askey said. “With their support and clear opposition to ‘lifeline scholarships,’ we can stop this terrible idea and together focus on fixing our unconstitutional public school funding system.”

PSEA was one of several unions to sign onto a letter this week that was sent to Gov. Shapiro, Sec. Mumin, and legislators making it clear that the unions oppose “lifeline scholarship” programs or any other types of tuition voucher schemes that divert taxpayer funds from public schools. Collectively, the unions represent 1 million Pennsylvanians.

“Diverting one cent of taxpayer money to a tuition voucher scheme for private and religious schools is absolutely irresponsible, no matter what name you call it,” Askey said. 

An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 177,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.