Susan Spika was sponsored by the Clarion County League of Women Voters in October to discuss public school funding at a public meeting. At her talk we learned that HB 1717 and SB 2 is legislation that would create a new generation of school vouchers called education savings accounts, or ESAs.
ESAs will benefit well-to-do families, who will receive taxpayer dollars to help pay for private/religious school tuition and other educational expenses when they withdraw their student from public school. The amount of funding a family would receive in an ESA in most cases will not be enough to make tuition at even the most inexpensive private school affordable for low- or modest-income families.
At the same time, ESAs drain desperately-needed funding from public schools, impacting programs for some of the most needy children and creating more pressure on property taxes to fill in the hole they will leave. They are also expensive to administer and ripe for waste, fraud and abuse. Because families can spend money on many different things, oversight and accountability will be extremely limited.
ESAs allow private schools that receive taxpayer dollars to discriminate against children by picking and choosing which students they admit. And these schools are not required to meet the same state standards as public schools.
Please call your state representative and senator and urge them to oppose ESAs and instead to support providing adequate state funding for public schools so that all children in Pennsylvania have an opportunity to receive a quality education.