Today, Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin County, announced plans to bring so-called education savings accounts to Pennsylvania. These are tuition vouchers by another name.
His plan would give parents of students in under-performing schools state-funded bank accounts to spend on their children's education, including using the state tax money at parochial schools or for other pre-approved education-related expenses. Parents would be required to pull their children out of their public school, he said at a news conference.
AFT Pennsylvania opposes any iteration of school vouchers and has fought hard to keep vouchers out of Pennsylvania.
Today, President Ted Kirsch released the following statement about DiSanto's proposal:
"Education savings accounts are tuition vouchers by another name, and research shows that vouchers, education tax credits and education savings accounts have failed everywhere they have been tried.
“These gimmicks destabilize public schools, which serve the majority of children in the United States. They promote discrimination because private schools and for-profit operators don't follow federal civil rights laws. They siphon state funding from public schools, particularly in rural communities and urban centers that cannot afford to raise property taxes to make up lost state revenues. And so-called school choice programs are not accountable or transparent about who they serve and how they spend public tax dollars.
“The U.S. Department of Education has found that test scores declined among students who participated in the Washington, D.C., Louisiana and Ohio voucher programs.
“Let’s not waste time going down this road again – when 20-years of research has shown privatization schemes such as these fail to raise student achievement.
"All students and communities deserve good, neighborhood public schools with the resources to address children’s needs. That’s where we should focus our attention and invest our tax dollars.”
Read the news coverage in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.