Wednesday, October 25, 2017

PA: Vouchers Stopped for Now

Senate Bill 2, the bill that was intended to put Education Savings Accounts (aka vouchers) in Pennsylvania, did not make it out of committee after all.

That's the good news.  By a 6-6 vote, momentarily made suspenseful by some rules shenanigans, the bill has stalled in the Senate Education committee.

PennLive coverage also offers some clarification on one bill point. While the language of the original left the door wide open for any student who had ever spent one semester in pubic school to get a voucher-- er, Education Savings Account (in other words, if your child spent one semester in public school first grade and has been in private school for ten years since, you get a voucher today and the public school loses state money without actually losing a student)-- anyway, the main sponsor of the bill, John DiSanto (R) told PennLive that students currently enrolled in private schools would be ineligible for the vouchers. That clarification would make a tremendous difference in the financial hit to public school districts. It would also, I'd imagine, piss off the parents of current private and home-schooled students and give them a real reason to put their children back in public schools for just one semester.

But there's bad news.

The bill did not stall because opposition to vouchers rose up and smote it. The final tying vote came from Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, who likes school choice just fine-- but who didn't get a chance to read the bill carefully and figure out exactly what effect it would have on his constituents.

In other words, the support for a bill like SB2 is there in the education committee-- it just failed to completely organize itself this time. So stay vigilant, because this will be back again.

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