Pennsylvania’s School Voucher bill moves Forward

Posted by By at 1 March, at 14 : 42 PM Print

Proponents of Pennsylvania’s school voucher bill have something worth celebrating. The measure cleared the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

Paving the way for taxpayers to finance public education for low-income families who want to put a child in another school.

The 8-2 vote came after Democrats attempts to propose amendments were swept aside by the Republican majority.  Among the changes, Dems’s would have liked, baring the state from taking money out of school districts to pay for vouchers and to give students in private schools the option of whether or not to attend religious instruction.

Rock The Capital’s Jan Chaplick worked the other side of the story to find out the reasons behind the “no” votes.

Sen. Daylin Leach, (D-17), voted against approving SB1, because even with some amendments, it still doesn’t alleviate his concerns, he told RockTheCapital.

“My biggest objection is that it will take money from the poorest schools, from the poorest kids,” Sen. Leach said.  If providing the  opportunity scholarships proposed by SB1 is so important, “why don’t we fund them from the general fund?” he asked.

In addition, Leach objects to SB 1 because it doesn’t provide for any accountability. “It’s taxpayers’ money, and we know nothing about what happens with it,” he said, noting that with non-public and private schools “there are no tests, no open records laws.” He was referring to academic tests public schools are required to administer and open records laws and other regulations public schools must follow.

A third objection is that public money would go to religious schools, he said, since students who receive opportunity scholarships are most likely to attend religious schools. “We can’t give state money to religious schools,” he said.

Leach offered the Education Committee an amendment that would allow the opportunity scholarship students attending religious schools to opt out of religious activities, but it was not accepted.

If you would like to see a portion of the committee meeting click on Rock The Capital.

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