PA lawmakers must oppose Senate Bill 2, legislation that would create a new and costly school voucher program known as education savings accounts.
ESA vouchers will siphon hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money out of public schools and into unaccountable private/religious schools and private companies. These vouchers will increase property taxes and reduce access to educational opportunities for all students in order to fund the private education of a few.
ESA vouchers enshrine discrimination against PA’s children into law. They allow private schools accepting taxpayer dollars to discriminate against students for many reasons including gender, religion, and disability. Students with disabilities, if they are permitted to enroll in a private school, must give up their rights under federal law to an appropriate education.
ESA vouchers are highly vulnerable to fraud and abuse. Egregious and significant abuses of taxpayer dollars have been documented in Arizona, which has had ESA vouchers since 2011. Once dollars are misspent by families, it is costly and often impossible to recover them.
If lawmakers are serious about every child’s future, it is time for them to get serious about what works. Local public schools educate 90% of PA’s students and they do not pick and choose the students they will enroll. Every child deserves a quality neighborhood school with inviting classrooms, a well-rounded curriculum that includes music and art, guidance counselors who help students make life-altering decisions, class sizes that are small enough for students to receive one-on-one attention, and extra help for students who need it.
Instead of continuing to attempt to pass ever worse versions of school vouchers, we need PA lawmakers to invest in public schools.