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HARRISBURG, PA (November 18, 2019) – Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, spoke out against legislation that would force the Harrisburg School District’s receiver to establish a taxpayer-funded voucher program to pay private school tuition.
The legislation, House Bill 1800, is sponsored by Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny. The Pennsylvania House Education Committee approved the bill today.
“Harrisburg has been in receivership for less than six months, and Speaker Turzai wants to upend the district’s recovery process with an expensive private school voucher program,” Askey said. “This voucher proposal, like the one championed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, will not help students learn. Instead, it will drain resources from Harrisburg’s public schools without holding private schools accountable for student achievement.
“The Harrisburg School District is on the right track for the first time in many years. The district has a good administrative team and a supportive school board to tackle the problems facing the city’s schools. Why would we want to halt this progress with an untested voucher scheme?
“There is also ample evidence from other states that voucher programs harm student achievement. A recent study in Louisiana confirmed what studies in Indiana, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. found — voucher programs had negative effects on students’ math test scores.
“Educators know what works and what doesn’t in our public schools. What we need are investments in public schools that serve every student, not failed programs that take taxpayers’ money away from them.”
Askey is a Harrisburg music teacher and the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 181,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.