Private school vouchers are a very bad idea. As states around the nation adopt and expand these programs, we get a crystal clear understanding of the catastrophic impact that private school vouchers have on public schools AND the massive amount of tax dollars that these programs waste.
When Governor Shapiro gives his budget address on Tuesday, February 6th, he should unequivocally reject additional funding for vouchers for unaccountable and discriminatory private schools in Pennsylvania.
In his 2024-2025 proposed state budget, Governor Shapiro should commit to bringing accountability and transparency to Pennsylvania’s current $490 million/year Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) school voucher programs AND he should focus proposed new investments of state dollars on ensuring adequate, equitable, and constitutional funding for public schools, which educate all students who come through their doors.
Democratic governors, including Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker, have soundly rejected vouchers. In Texas and Georgia, Republican lawmakers have joined together with their Democratic counterparts to keep voucher expansion out of their states because of the devastating impact school vouchers would have on rural public school districts.
Governor Shapiro should join these leaders who are rejecting school vouchers in their states.
We just need to look at the catastrophe that is unfolding in Arizona to know what to expect if a new voucher program becomes law in Pennsylvania. In Arizona, voucher supporters sold a story to Arizonans that universal vouchers would cost just $64 million, when in fact, the price tag for offering a voucher to every student in the state turned out to cost Arizonans more than $900 million this fiscal year alone. Tax dollars are now paying for voucher families’ golf equipment and ski passes, while public schools face devastating cuts and state taxpayers will be on the hook for whatever exploding costs vouchers bring.
Click HERE to read more about the catastrophe of vouchers and why Governor Josh Shapiro and PA state lawmakers should reject them in our op-ed that was recently published in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
We have many reasons to be optimistic that this year’s state budget could bring substantial investments in public education. But we are going to have a lot of work to do in the upcoming months.
PS: If you missed the January 25th PA Schools Work Webinar, The Dangers of Private School Vouchers: Lessons Learned from the States, please find a recording and slide decks from the presentations below.