Start the conversation here
Hello, I'm William Browning with ACTION United, the most active parent organizing group in PA. The parents and community members we talk to on a daily basis have real concerns about the school voucher plan. We share their concerns. In particular, how will the students who receive vouchers be chosen? And once they are chosen, what will be the process of selecting a school to attend?
I'm joined today by Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn of the Pennsylvania NAACP's education committee.
William I think we can agree a voucher system does not have the same impact on all the tax payers of a particular county. If you the means or right at the edge of your financial capabilities to send your children to a private schools then a voucher would be beneficial. If you are like most and cannot afford to contribute to a public school system via taxes and pay for a private school education with or without a voucher, then this type of system would just pull public resource away for a public school to benefit those that have more and can afford more. Thus it is obvious this would not be a fair use of public dollars. If we believe it’s not fair then why are we pursuing this option? To transfer additional financial burden from those that have greater resource to those have less?
Hello, I am Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee for the PA NAACP.
According to Senate Bill 1, school districts will have to develop the applications. Then parents get the application from the home district. They then apply to the school of their choice. The school does not have to accept students and the school does not have to account for the decision.
Parents have to be informed that the child has been accepted. They would then notify the oversight group in Harrisburg. Then, a voucher would mailed to the parent. Then the parent would pay the school.
Great question Lauren
Looking at the fiscal note for the bill -- it seems clear that a voucher system would certainly create (or really exacerbate) segregation by class.
By the third year of the bill middle-income students would be eligible, and the amount of money set aside for low-income students would be capped.
This is a prime example of the "bait and switch" nature of this bill.
What might have begun as an effort to help poor students in failing schools, is now simply a handout to private and religious schools. But I have found a study which states
“We find that a universal voucher is likely to increase racial and ethnic segregation across public schools”.
UNIVERSAL VOUCHERS AND RACIAL AND ETHNIC SEGREGATION http://mywebspace.quinnipiac.edu/ejbrunner/research/white%20flight.pdf
There is a great deal of research on how charter schools have increased the resegregation of children in school. Under Senate Bill 1, private schools do the selecting of students (the parents do not really select the school in that schools do not have to accept a child) private schools can have an even greater impact on segregation than charter schools are having.
As well, children with special needs can be left to the local school - where they can become the critical mass. It cost more to education children with special needs and children who live in poverty.
Now, what difference does it make if schools are segregated by color or by class? Well, the research indicates that cross-economic class, cross-cultural experiences have a positive impact on academic achievement.
At the same time, it is to the benefit of all children to learn to work and live in common effort with people who are different from themselves. It increases our acceptance of others and we learn to not fear those who are not like ourselves.
Joan - See Len's question below.
Is what you described also the process for using a voucher to go to a public school in another district?
In the Governor's amendment proposal, he would extend the access to vouchers to people whose income is up to $78,000. Most people are satified with their pubic schools. They do not see a reason to go searching for a school for their children. There are people who prefer to have their children educated in a religious setting. The vouchers and the Education Improvement Tax Credit appeal to these families in a big way.
The House just passed an EITC bill that does the same thing that is proposed in the EITC section of Senate Bill 1. What is not clear in the SB1 EITC section is how knowledge of the tax credit is disseminated. As well, $100 million dollars in tax relief is substantial.
There are time lines in the bill. For instance, for this first year, should the bill pass, I have counted that there are 30 work days during which a parent could apply and a school could respond. That is probably why the Governor suggested that the first year (dedicated to the poor) would probably have little impact on the budget.
I need to read again in Senate Bill 1 the exact timelines for the usual process as they slip my mind at this minute.
Nothing happens when a child is rejected. There is no recourse. The school has the power to accept or to reject. So, the parent will just have to tell the child he or she did not get accepted. Money only moves when the parent notifies the oversight group in writing that a child has been accepted to a given school. SO the process stops.
One thing to be concerned about is the tuition fee. Once people are forced to shop for school and pay through vouchers, market forces will take over. The old saying, "You get what you pay for." will take charge. There will be advertising - as there is now for the cyber-charter. Tuitions will increase, while the amount of vouchers will decrease.