PSEA is a community of education professionals who make a difference in the lives of students every day.
Emily Nell came back to teach art and make an impact after spending 14 years as an independent artist working in schools and holding benefit auctions.
Pennsylvania’s public schools should be the safest and healthiest places for students to learn and grow.
PSEA is committed to making changes aimed at protecting everyone who works and learns in our schools.
For further information contact:
Chris Lilienthal, (717) 255-7134, Pennsylvania State Education Association
Annette Stevenson, (646) 872-8415, Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Dr. Andrew Armagost, (814) 823-5551, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials
Susan Spicka, (717) 331-4033, Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Marc Stier, (215) 880-6142, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Nicholas Pressley, (814) 933-4475, We the People
HARRISBURG, PA (Sept. 24, 2021) – A diverse coalition of public education advocates and Pennsylvania education associations representing hundreds of thousands of school administrators, employees, and elected school board members called on the state House of Representatives to oppose a bill that could put students at risk when schools experience COVID-19 outbreaks.
House Bill 1254 would require any school district that “denies a resident student full-time, in-person instruction” to establish a tuition voucher program for those students. As the bill is currently worded, these tuition voucher programs would be triggered even when school districts follow public health directives by temporarily shifting to remote instruction to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 in a school building.
The advocacy and education groups sent a letter today to Pennsylvania House leaders urging them to oppose this bill.
“This misguided legislation would force school districts to create tuition voucher programs if they close a school building — even for a day,” the letter states. “The bill would, quite literally, cost school districts millions of dollars just because they follow medical and scientific health guidance to protect students, school staff, and their families from COVID-19. …
“Forcing school officials to choose between keeping their students and staff members safe from a virus that has cost nearly 700,000 Americans their lives or losing millions in state funding to tuition voucher programs is terrible public health policy. It also undercuts our mission to safely educate Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students.”
Read the full letter below.
September 24, 2021
The Honorable Kerry Benninghoff
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Room 110 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2171
The Honorable Curt Sonney
House Education Committee
Room 214 Ryan Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2004
Dear Representatives Benninghoff and Sonney:
We write to make it clear that we oppose House Bill 1254 in the strongest possible terms. This misguided legislation would force school districts to create tuition voucher programs if they close a school building — even for a day.
The bill would, quite literally, cost school districts millions of dollars just because they follow medical and scientific health guidance to protect students, school staff, and their families from COVID-19.
We share the goal of keeping Pennsylvania’s schools open for in-person instruction. However, it is inevitable that some schools will need to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines when facing a severe COVID-19 outbreak. Under House Bill 1254, even temporary closures of a single classroom, authorized in order to protect students’ and school staff members’ health and safely, would require the creation of tuition voucher programs.
This is unacceptable.
Just as troubling, an amendment likely to be offered to this bill, Amendment 02321, appears to apply these tuition voucher provisions “to COVID-19 outbreaks or a COVID-19 related mandate or policy.”
This amendment, if adopted, would likely apply to every school district in the commonwealth, draining precious state funds from schools that are doing everything possible to educate Pennsylvania’s students during a global pandemic.
Forcing school officials to choose between keeping their students and staff members safe from a virus that has cost nearly 700,000 Americans their lives or losing millions in state funding to tuition voucher programs is terrible public health policy. It also undercuts our mission to safely educate Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students.
We understand that the House plans to consider this bill as early as Monday, Sept. 27. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to reconsider this decision.
House Bill 1254 is a threat to the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. It cannot be allowed to advance in the General Assembly.
Please oppose this legislation or any other proposal like it.
AFT – Pennsylvania
Allies for Children
The Arc of Pennsylvania
Children First (formerly Public Citizens for Children and Youth)
Delaware Valley Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
Disability Rights Pennsylvania
Education Law Center
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Keystone Research Center
Leaders for Educational Accountability and Reform Network (LEARN)
Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators (PACTA)
Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU)
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA)
Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC)
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC)
Pennsylvania Principals Association
Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)
Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA)
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers
Public Interest Law Center
We the People