Archives for category: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has an outdated charter school law that funds charter schools generously. For a long time, the legislature was controlled by Republicans whose billionaire donors wanted to encourage charter schools and defund public schools. The state is also extravagant in funding virtual charter schools, many of which operate for profit. All the virtual charters are low-performing.

The Keystone Center for Charter Change, established by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, has led a campaign to revise the charter law, especially the funding formula. 89% of the school districts in the state have joined their program for reform.

.@PennsManor Area SD becomes Pennsylvania’s 445th locally elected, volunteer board of school directors to pass a resolution calling upon the General Assembly to pass charter reform.

Keystone Center for Charter Change Website
More than 440 school districts have adopted a resolution calling upon the General Assembly to meaningfully reform the existing flawed charter school funding system to ensure that school districts and taxpayers are no longer overpaying or reimbursing charter schools for costs they do not have. The map and list below will show which school districts have approved a resolution.
If your school board has not yet adopted a resolution, you can find a copy of the resolution and instructions on how to submit the resolution after adoption below.

Peter Greene explains school issues better than anyone. In this post in the Bucks County Beacon in Pennsylvania, he explains why vouchers fail, why renaming them doesn’t make them better, and why anyone who cares about the quality of education should forget about vouchers/ESAs.

He writes:

School Vouchers Have Been A Disaster—Now Advocates Are Trying To Rename Them

What you need to know about education savings accounts, a kind of “super-voucher.”

Although a sizable number of Republican candidates in the 2022 midterm elections who were counting on school vouchers to be a winning issue—including Tudor Dixon in Michigan, Kari Lake in Arizona, and Tim Michels in Wisconsin—went down to defeat, school vouchers are not about to go away. Voucher advocates are instead changing the name and pushing for education savings accounts (ESAs).

ESAs are legal in around 10 states so far, but if this new idea for promoting school choice hasn’t already been proposed in your state, it may be appearing there soon. Here’s what education savings accounts are, how they work, and what policymakers and families in your state should consider before rushing headlong into adopting this idea.

What Are ESAs?

Education savings accounts are a kind of super-voucher. While traditional vouchers give parents a chunk of taxpayer money that they could use for tuition at the school of their choice, an ESA gives parents a chunk of taxpayer money that they can spend on private school tuition or a variety of other educational expenses.

Tennessee’s ESA law offers a typical list of eligible expenses that not only include private school tuition and fees but also textbooks, school uniforms, tutoring, transportation to and from school, computer software, tech devices, summer school tuition, and tuition and fees at a postsecondary school.

ESAs provide a wider range of choices—and a wider range of ways for vendors to get their hands on education tax dollars without having to open a whole school to get voucher money.

ESAs also provide political cover. Vouchers have frequently been rejected by voters, so voucher proponents, on Twitter and in legislative discussions, have opted not to use the label of “voucher” for ESAs. They may further try to sweeten the rebranding by using terms such as “education scholarship accounts” and “education freedom accounts.”

The money comes to parents by way of a company hired to handle these funds. Step Up for Students and ClassWallet are two examples of these “scholarship management” companies. These companies handle the actual disbursement of the monies, often through debit cards; they also take a cut of the funding.

Where Does ESA Money Come From?

Funding for an ESA program can come from several different paths.

One pathway is via tax credit programs that allow corporations and individuals to contribute directly to “scholarship” funding while getting a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed this on a national scale with her failed Education Freedom Scholarships.

Proponents like to say that tax credit funding does not involve any government spending, which is technically correct because the money never touches government hands. But because it is a tax credit, it does cost the taxpayers. A million dollars in tax credit scholarships means $1 million of revenue the government does not get, leaving a hole that must be made up either by raising taxes or cutting other state and federal programs. Kentucky set up tax credit scholarships to fund its ESA program; the tax credit scholarship program was thrown out in December 2022 by the state’s supreme court for being “unconstitutional.

Another pathway to ESA funding comes from new laws enacting “backpack funding,” where per-pupil funding that would have gone to the student’s home school district goes to the student’s ESA instead. This can be particularly damaging in states like Arizona, where the money is pulled from the student’s assigned district even if the student has always attended private school. In other words, the school’s operating revenue is reduced by the per-pupil funding, but its operating costs are reduced by zero dollars.

ESAs can also be funded by taking the money off the top of the state’s education budget, meaning the costs of the vouchers hit all school districts, whether they have students choosing vouchers or not.

In addition, a suggestion was made that pandemic relief funds be distributed via ESA-style programs (Oklahoma was one state that tried it).

GOP legislators have also tried to propose that federal funding intended for poor students or students with special needs, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), be turned into school voucher programs, a particularly ironic proposal, as students usually give up their rights under IDEA when they move out of the public education system. This repurposing of federal funding for education will no doubt become part of the rhetoric used for ESA funding.

How Are Tax Dollars in ESA Spent?

Tracking how tax dollars are spent in ESA programs is difficult if not impossible because these programs have hardly any accountability.

ESAs, like vouchers, have proven to be a way to use public tax dollars to fund private religious schools. In fact, in states where voucher programs exist, vouchers primarily fund religious schools (particularly Catholic ones). While the separation of church and state, when it comes to education, is already being increasingly whittled away, ESAs, like vouchers, allow states to circumvent that wall entirely.

Further, there are few checks in place to ensure that ESA money is spent on legitimate education expenses. In Arizona, parents spent $700,000 of their ESA money on beauty supplies, clothes, and other questionable expenses. In Oklahoma, pandemic relief funds were disbursed ESA-style, and when news broke that about half a million dollars in funds had been used to buy things like Christmas trees, gaming consoles, and outdoor grills, the state passed the buck.

Ryan Walters, who was just elected as Oklahoma’s education chief, bragged that the private sector would be a “more efficient way” to handle the funds, and he gave ClassWallet freedom to administer the state’s ESA program. But ClassWallet has admitted that it has “neither responsibility for, nor authority to exercise programmatic decision making with respect to the program or its associated federal funds and did not have responsibility for grant compliance.” In other words, nobody is checking to see how the money is really spent.

In most ESA programs, parents can select from an official list of vendors. One might assume that such a list would include vendors that have been screened to make sure that they are qualified providers of high-quality materials and instruction, but one would be wrong. In many states, a vendor is included in the list after simply meeting some very basic requirements. Tennessee’s ESA program leaves oversight of education vendors largely up to the management of its private contractor. Arizona’s ESA program doesn’t even have a list of approved schools, vendors, or providers, leaving the destination of taxpayer funding up to the “discretion” of the account holder.

The argument is that free market forces will keep vendors in line and that parents’ ability to make choices will work better than government regulations. One might also argue that the Food and Drug Administration should be shut down and the market should be allowed to regulate food manufacturing behavior. If a company gets sloppy or cheap and starts producing poisoned food, the market will correct it. All we have to do is let some consumers be poisoned in the process.

Not only are taxpayers’ interests unguarded in ESA systems, but parent and student interests are unguarded as well. Parents have to navigate an unregulated marketplace, an asymmetrical market where sellers have far more information than buyers, and where marketing materials take the place of useful information.

What Risks Do ESAs Pose to Students and Families?

Whether school choice advocates are pushing vouchers or ESAs, they frequently fail to mention the most fundamental issue for students and their families—private schools do not have to admit anyone they don’t wish to admit, either by placing various barriers in the way (not offering transportation or meals) or by simply putting restrictions in place.

That was one of the takeaways from Carson v. Makin, a Supreme Court decision that declared that Maine must allow voucher money to go to religious private schools, even if they are clearly discriminatory. Many ESA laws include a sort of non-interference clause that declares that accepting voucher money does not make the school a state actor, and the state may in no way dictate to the school how it will operate. In other words, they may teach what they want and discriminate as they like, even if they accept taxpayer dollars. Students with special needs, as well as LGBTQIA+ students, find they may have far fewer “choice” options than others.

ESA programs fail to protect students in other important ways. Should a family run out of ESA money, or find that they’ve been bilked by a bad vendor, or even be dumped by a vendor that goes out of business midyear, there are no real protections for families of students. Some school choice advocates have suggested that this risk would be minimized by providing third-party consumer reviews via a service like Yelp. But generally, it’s assumed that the invisible hand of the market, wearing its caveat emptor ring, is supposed to do the job of quality oversight.

In one striking example, an ESA bill proposed in Utah in 2022 included a requirement that parents sign a statement that they “assume full financial responsibility for the education” of their child. That means if they run out of voucher money or get left high and dry by a bad vendor or find the vendor incompetent, they are on their own. Presumably, in such a situation, a student would have no recourse but to return to a public school, though that school might get zero funding for that student.

Do ESAs Improve Education Results?

Most importantly, study after study shows that voucher programs in all their forms do not foster excellence in education. ESAs are a newer creation and so have been studied less, but given that the ESA system has even fewer guardrails than traditional vouchers, there’s no reason to think that the educational results would be any better.

In any case, under ESA, poor educational outcomes would be the parents’ problem, and the solutions we’ve seen for this problem are grim.

For instance, some voucher proponents (including DeVos) suggest a low-cost use for vouchers would be microschools, in which a handful of students gather in someone’s home around a computer with some online lessons while an adult “coach” keeps an eye on things. It’s not anyone’s first choice for a great education, but if that’s what you can afford—well, enjoy your choice.

That is the heart of voucher programs, whether you call them vouchers or education savings accounts or freedom scholarship accounts; they get the government out of the school business and turn education into a commodity that is the responsibility of parents alone. In voucher world, the state hands you your debit card and washes its hands of you. “Enjoy your freedom, and good luck.” And if an excellent education is not readily available because the ESA money is inadequate or your child has special needs, and your local public school is struggling with reduced funding, well, that’s your problem.

It’s all about the three D’s—disrupt, defund, and dismantle. Call the voucher system whatever you would like, but it is about reducing education from a public good and shared societal responsibility to a simple consumer good.

This article was produced by Our Schools, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Peter Greene

Peter Greene is a recently retired classroom secondary English teacher of 39 years. He lives and works in a small town in Northwest Pennsylvania, and blogs at Curmudgucation.

Pennsylvania elected a Democrat as its new governor, Josh Shapiro, the former state attorney general. During his campaign against the Trumper candidate Doug Mastriano, Shapiro campaigned as a centrist Democrat and won handily. One worrisome detail is that Gov.-Elect Shapiro endorsed vouchers, despite their widespread failure and their affiliation with hardcore rightwingers. It is therefore somewhat reassuring that he selected an experienced education as the state superintendent. This article was republished by the Keystone Center for Charter Change of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Pa. is getting a new education secretary: Lower Merion superintendent Khalid Mumin

Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, January 9, 2023

Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro has named Khalid Mumin, currently superintendent of the Lower Merion School District, as his education secretary. Mumin, a Philadelphia native, has led the Montgomery County district for a little over a year. He came to Lower Merion from Reading, where he was named Pennsylvania’s Superintendent of the Year in 2021.

“During the past 15 months, I have grown to love Lower Merion, our inspiring students, exemplary staff, committed families and community members; however, Gov.-elect Shapiro has offered me a unique and exciting opportunity to reshape educational policy and practices across the Commonwealth, so all Pennsylvania students can experience the level of educational excellence our students enjoy and that all students deserve,” Mumin said in a letter to the Lower Merion community. The Secretary of Education job, he said, “was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Mumin is scheduled to be sworn in as Acting Secretary of Education on Jan. 17. “For over 25 years, I have served as a teacher, dean of students, principal, and school superintendent — and I know firsthand what it takes to move our education system forward,” Mumin said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Gov.-Elect to fully fund our schools, make our students’ mental health a priority, and empower parents and guardians to ensure their children receive a quality education.”

Click here for more.

Though he currently runs one of the state’s best-funded school systems, Mumin has extensive experience in low-wealth districts, too. Prior to working in Lower Merion, Mumin was superintendent of Reading city schools, where he worked for six years. He also served as an administrator in Maryland.

We will keep a watchful eye on Governor Shapiro, as he chooses whether to fully find the state’s public schools or to waste money on vouchers to satisfy a campaign donor.

Josh Cowen has demonstrated repeatedly that vouchers are a very bad public investment. The students who use vouchers fall behind their peers in public schools. He has cited the research behind his conclusions. He maintains that facts and evidence matter. But many state officials don’t know the facts or just want to assuage the people who want the state to subsidize their private school tuition.

One elected official who should look at the facts and the evidence is Josh Shapiro, who was recently elected to be governor of Pennsylvania. During his campaign, he expressed support for a voucher program because it would provide “opportunity” for some students.

Josh wrote this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer to help Governor-Elect Shapiro understand the facts and the evidence.

Josh Cowen says the evidence is clear: Vouchers do not help students. They hurt.

He wrote:

Josh Shapiro — like Katie Hobbs in Arizona and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan — is part of a class of Democratic candidates who this month won the key to the governor’s office for the next four years.

As a professor of education policy, I was struck by how public schools became a prominent issue in each of their campaigns, especially the debate over school vouchers — the use of tax dollars to fund tuition for private schools.

Unlike Hobbs and Whitmer, however, Shapiro has expressed some cautious support for vouchers — including (at least in principle) the “Lifeline Scholarship” bills that have already been introduced by the current legislature.

And since it appears that a Democratic majority in the Pennsylvania House is razor-thin, and Republicans will keep the Senate, Shapiro may be pressured or even encouraged by some to move forward with that support.

The governor-elect has defended his position by saying, “It’s what I believe,” and that vouchers provide students with additional avenues to “help them achieve success.”

Unfortunately, the data show exactly the opposite.

I used to be a cautious supporter, too. But I’ve been studying school vouchers for 17 years now, and I can say, without reservation, that study after study show that vouchers hurt academic achievement for children. That is especially true of the low-income students who would be eligible under the currently proposed plans in Pennsylvania to which Shapiro gave qualified support.

How bad are vouchers? Think about what the COVID-19 pandemic did to standardized test scores.

How bad are vouchers for students? Think about what the COVID-19 pandemic did to standardized test scores. Independent studies of voucher programs in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio have all shown catastrophic impacts on student achievement, with few-to-no offsetting gains on other measures such as educational attainment.

Some of the worst results have been found in Ohio, where voucher impacts on student learning were roughly twice the impact of the pandemic on academic outcomes.

Here’s another problem: Vouchers mostly just provide tax breaks to families whose kids are already in private school. In places such as Arizona, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, we know that more than 75% of voucher applicants were in private schools anyway by the time they applied for state funding. Even those in low-income families.

As a practical matter, that could be fixed in Pennsylvania by tying voucher eligibility to time in public school first, as well as capping the fiscal loss public districts faced when students transferred to private schools — as one current proposal has done. But that’s a short-term strategy.

Over the long term, vouchers simply represent new budgetary obligations for Pennsylvania taxpayers. The governor-elect has said he doesn’t view vouchers and support for public schools as a choice — that these positions are not a mutually exclusive “either/or.”

That’s a false hope. As the experience in other states shows, there is no way that long-term commitments to funding public schools can be reconciled with commitments to underwriting vouchers.

And unlike the devastating impacts that vouchers have on kids, we know that major investments in public schools have sustained and positive effects on learning and nonacademic outcomes, such as reductions in crime.

Side by side, the evidence says investments in public schools pay off, while investments in vouchers push kids further behind.

Perhaps the only remaining argument for vouchers is simply faith-based: that tax dollars should support religious education, even if the evidence says those programs harm academics. The U.S. Supreme Court essentially did just that this summer with its ruling in Carson v. Makin, which found that voucher programs could not exclude religious schools. That ruling was in line with the court’s long-held position that vouchers can exist constitutionally.

But just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

Looking from outside the state at the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign, it was refreshing to hear someone like Josh Shapiro stand up for something he says he believes in — even if it rankles some supporters.

But at some point belief has to give way to facts. And the facts from across the country say vouchers are more of an anchor than a lifeline for kids.

Peter Greene was a teacher in Pennsylvania for 39 years. In this post, he covers Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s empty proposal for “parental rights.”

Greene writes:

Last week Doug Mastriano held a campaign event masquerading as a hearing for a parental rights bill so empty and vague that its only possible use could be as a campaign prop.

Mastriano signaled a whole year ago that he was going to wade into the whole “parental rights” thing with his own version of a “legislate the gay away” bill. Soon thereafter, he proposed SB 996, which was turned over to the State Government committee on January 4, 2022.

And yet, the time to hold a hearing on the bill is just before time to vote for Mastriano or his opponent for Pennsylvania’s governor’s seat.

The bill itself is a brief nothingburger. The Parental Rights Protection Act is 41 lines long. 6 lines give its name. 16 lines define the terms “commonwealth agency” and “non-commonwealth agency.” Section 3 in its entirety says:


(b) Infringement.–Neither a Commonwealth agency nor a non-Commonwealth agency may infringe upon the right under subsection (a) without demonstrating that the law or ordinance is narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means.

In 8 lines, we get the applicability of the law, and two lines to tell us that the law would take effect in 60 days.

The Mastriano campaign has maintained its unwillingness to speak to the press, and so has offered no clarification of the bill’s intent or function. But the parade of witnesses at the hearing brought the usual list of grievances–mask mandates, trans student using rest rooms, “pornographic” books in the school library, and “pronoun games.” The bill, absent any specifics, allows all of these folks to imagine that it would provide them some relief, without including any language that opponents could point to as objectionable….

More specific parental rights legislation has been proposed in Pennsylvania, such as HB 2813, which follows more closely the national template of other Don’t Say Gay bills forbidding discussion of “gender orientation and sexual identity.”

What would the bill actually do? Nobody really knows. Does this mean I can get satisfaction when my kid’s teacher shows a Disney movie when I don’t allow them in my home? Or when my kid has to use Chromebook and we are an Apple household? Will I be able to do something if the teacher mentions Jesus or God and we don’t do religion at our house? What would qualify as an infringement, and what could a parent who felt the law had been broken do? Call the police? File a lawsuit? Should they report the agency to the proper part of the state government–and if so, which department would that be? What penalty would be imposed?

I wonder if there are limits to parental rights? May they beat their children? May they chain them to their beds? May they force them to live in unsanitary conditions??

Blogger-teacher Steven Singer lists five big lies about public schools that Republicans are pushing.

Be it noted that he leaves out a sixth big lie about public schools: some GOP nuts claim that public schools are putting litter boxes in classrooms for students who say they are cats. No one has identified a classroom where this has happened, but why should facts get in the way of propaganda?

Singer begins:

Critical race theory, pornographic school books, and other bogeymen haunt their platforms without any evidence that this stuff is a reality.

Doug Mastriano, the GOP nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania, actually promises to ban pole dancing in public schools.

Pole dancing!

“On day one, the sexualization of our kids, pole dancing, and all this other crap that’s going on will be forbidden in our schools,” he says.

Mr. Mastriano, I hate to tell you this, but the only school in the commonwealth where there was anything like what you describe was one of those charter schools you love so much. The Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School in Philadelphia used to run an illegal nightclub in the cafeteria after dark.

But at authentic public schools with things like regulations and school boards – no. That just doesn’t happen here.

Maybe if your plan to waste taxpayer dollars on universal school vouchers goes through you’ll get your wish.

Singer goes on to list the following five lies:

1. Teaching boys to hate themselves.

2. Teaching kids to be gay.

3. Teaching kids to be trans.

Open the link to read about the other two.

They are all smears, lies, and propaganda.

Kathryn Joyce, investigative reporter for Salon, reports that Doug Mastriano, Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, believes that abortion is murder. Mastriano is a far-right MAGA guy. Mastriano is not alone.

In an alarming article, Joyce shows the dangers of a growing movement to criminalize women who get abortions.

She writes:

This week, an old interview surfaced of Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano calling for people who have abortions to be prosecuted for murder. The comments came from a 2019 radio interview in which Mastriano was asked whether a “fetal heartbeat” bill he’d sponsored in the state Senate, which would have banned abortion after six weeks, would mean that anyone who obtained abortion after that point in pregnancy should be charged with murder.

“Let’s go back to the basic question there,” Mastriano replied. “Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.” When the interviewer asked whether that meant he was calling to prosecute abortion as murder, Mastriano removed all doubt, saying, “Yes, I am…”

That may or may not be true, but Mastriano certainly isn’t the only Republican who’s raised the possibility of charging women who have abortions with murder. And not all those Republicans mirror Mastriano’s far-right track record or his lengthy association with extreme elements of Christian nationalism.

In May, just days after news broke about the Supreme Court draft opinion that would ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade, Republican state legislators in Louisiana advanced a bill out of committee that would have classified abortion as homicide, allowing prosecutors to charge anyone who obtained one with murder. The so-called “Abolition of Abortion” act would have “ensure[d] the right to life and equal protection of the laws to all unborn children from the moment of fertilization by protecting them by the same laws protecting other human beings.” In other words, the laws and criminal penalties that apply to homicide would be extended to fetuses as well….

In the larger national picture, women are already being prosecuted for murder and other felonies, both for abortions and for other pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriages and stillbirths.

“Unfortunately we don’t need to criminalize abortion to charge women,” said Purvaja Kavattur, a research and program associate at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who said that the success of the “fetal personhood” movement — which holds that embryos and fetuses should have the same rights as “already born” people — has led to a sharp increase in prosecutions related to pregnancy.

The U.S. has the worst prenatal care of any developed nation. The new anti-abortion laws will frighten pregnant women away from medical care.

After the murder of a recreation worker at a city center, Mayor Jim Kenney issued an executive order banning guns at playgrounds and recreation centers. A local judge overturned Mayor Kennedy’s order, because it violates state law.

This is madness. People will die. Are guns in schools okay too?

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge on Monday blocked the city from enforcing an executive order Mayor Jim Kenney signed last week banning guns at recreation centers and playgrounds following the fatal shooting of a Parks and Recreation employee last month.

The Gun Owners of America, on behalf of several state residents, filed a lawsuit last Tuesday, the day Kenney signed his order. After hearing arguments Friday, Judge Joshua H. Roberts issued his ruling siding with the plaintiffs and ordering Philadelphia to be “permanently enjoined” from enforcing Kenney’s ban.

The lawsuit cited Pennsylvania state law that prohibits any city or county from passing gun-control measures. The preemption law, which the city has repeatedly sought to overturn, bans local government from passing gun-control measures that are stricter than state gun laws.

Andrew B. Austin, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in an emailed statement: “For my part, I am gratified that the Court of Common Pleas was able to so quickly resolve this suit, but that was in large part because the law is so explicit: The City is not allowed to regulate possession of firearms in any manner.”

Jerry Zahorchak, a former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, explains why the Republicans’ voucher bill would harm students and public schools and deepen inequity.

He writes:

Imagine a school district with $4,000 less to spend per student than its wealthier neighbors with many students who lack supports to reach grade-level. How would you help?

Most people would guarantee that this school district had funds to hire enough teachers and aides to give students who are behind supports. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania parents in a recent PSBA (Pennsylvania School Boards Association) poll agreed that struggling schools need more resources.

Legislative leaders are instead considering taking taxpayer money away from some of the state’s lowest funded schools and sending it private schools, no strings attached.

The bill, HB 2169, passed the State House in May and could be considered by the state Senate at any time this session. Under the bill, students who live in the attendance zone of public schools with test scores in the bottom 15% statewide would be eligible to receive the average per-student state funding for public schools – around $7,000 per year – as a voucher that can be used for any qualified educational expense, including private school tuition. Funding would come directly from their local school district, and would cost struggling school districts around $140 million annually (PSBA).

Rather than giving students in underfunded schools resources, they would use taxpayer money to fuel the private market. Families would be on their own, forgetting that we all have a stake in making sure that each child learns to cooperate with neighbors of every stripe and become self-supporting, knowledgeable citizens.

Proponents claim these “lifeline scholarships” will help families access quality education they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The real story is not so simple.

Supporters never mention that districts with high academic performance are able to spend around $4,600 more per student on average than low-performing districts. These resource gaps – which will be worse with HB 2169 – closely track local wealth. When we adjust for the fact that poor school districts serve more students in poverty and other students who need more support, the gap between wealthy and poor school districts is more than $7,000 per student.

The fantasy that the private market will provide a better deal for students at a cheaper price falls apart under scrutiny.

Private schools often reject students that public schools rightfully must educate: students who are behind grade-level, have behavioral challenges, are learning English and more. There’s no guarantee to make private schools accommodate students with disabilities, unlike public schools where federal laws guarantee students with disabilities the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Private schools can reject students simply because they don’t “fit the culture” or can’t pay the entire cost of tuition. Because many of these students need services that cost more, there is an incentive to say no.

Please open the link and read the rest of his article.

The voucher bill was narrowly passed by the Republican-led House and also the State Semate Education committee.

For some inexplicable reason, it was endorsed by Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for Governor.

We recently learned that Josh Shapiro, Democratic candidate for Governor of Pennnsylvania, has endorsed vouchers.

One of our readers supplied an email for this “Democrat” who has embraced the Republican agenda for education. Josh Shapiro is a hypocrite. Real Democrats support public goods. Real Democrats care about the common good. Real Democrats fight privatization of what belongs to the public.

Here’s his email:, As a union public school teacher and a member of the democratic party I am absolutely outraged by your decision to endorse charter schools.

If you don’t know why you should not be supporting the same education policies as Donald Trump and Betsy Devos, then you have no business holding public office for the democratic party.