As Voucher Plan Moves Forward Communities Object

Gov. Tom Corbett recently revealed his plan for education, pushing for vouchers as the new standard for education reform. On October 24th, the Senate Education Committee approved a vouchers program. Now, the Senate is poised to pass it. The Senate Education Committee’s support of vouchers is happening despite major opposition from students and parents across Pennsylvania.

Why fund private and parochial schools with taxpayer dollars? If public education weren’t always under attack by budget cuts, there would be no need to expand educational “choices” for parents and students. We know the real first choice of every parent and student is a high quality public school in their neighborhood.

If Gov. Corbett’s real goal was the expansion of educational choice for students he would be funding public education instead of vouchers. “Fixing struggling schools like mine is a process. It takes leadership from the principal and the district, student and parent involvement, qualified and effective teachers, engaging curriculum, accountability, and adequate funding. It is a process, but I know that my school can succeed if it is invested in,” said Baseerah Watson, a senior at Sayre High School in West Philadelphia. There is no better choice for parents and students than a district of well-funded neighborhood schools.

Vouchers will only increase the disparity within already struggling districts. Many students, parents, and taxpayers will be left behind. They will be left behind because there is no guarantee that getting a voucher will lead to a better education. Even students who get vouchers are not guaranteed acceptance at private schools. Private schools can turn away students or kick students out for any reason, including a student’s disability, religion, test scores, background, or status as an English Language Learner. Even with a voucher, many students will be stuck in the same underfunded, under-performing schools, while more and more resources are drained out of their schools.

Vouchers will not benefit all of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, regardless of the promises being made by Corbett’s administration. These promises are empty promises. Can we really afford to leave anymore students behind? And, furthermore, would we want to?


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