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Educators Voice Concern PA School Voucher Programs ‘Discriminate’

Educadores Preocupados por 'Discriminación' en Programas de Vales Escolares

Feb 21, 2024

by Danielle Smith, Keystone State News Connection

Pennsylvania’s teachers’ union is voicing concerns that the state’s public school voucher program will negatively affect public education in lower-income families and communities.

The most recent budget proposal would direct an additional $1 billion to K-12 education, affecting more than 1.7 million students, and doesn’t include any specific funding for school voucher programs.

Arthur Steinberg is president of the American Federation of Teachers in Pennsylvania.

He said the Educational Investment Tax Credit programs allow parents to send students to private and religious schools, if they think the public school is underperforming – siphoning funds from public schools.

“They go to schools, which are allowed to – permitted to – discriminate based on any facts, religion, gender, political beliefs, anything they want,” said Steinberg. “There’s no restriction on that money. And there’s no accountability for how it is spent. So, the choice really goes to the schools, not students – so there’s no benefit to them whatsoever.”

Steinberg pointed out that Senate Bill 1057, introduced this month, would fund $300 million in scholarships for students at nonpublic schools – when public schools are underfunded by $5.4 billion, according to a Commonwealth Court ruling.

He added that diverting funds widens gaps, without improving education or equity.

Supporters argue vouchers let children leave under-performing public schools and get a better education at private schools. Test school data does not consistently confirm the argument that voucher students are better educated.

Steinberg said school voucher program do not exclude low-wealth areas, but mostly benefit wealthy people that can afford the private-school tuition.

“It’s really a handout to wealthier individuals that are already in those schools,” said Steinberg. “If you give a family living below the poverty level $7,000 to go to a school where the tuition is $28,000, they can’t afford the difference anyway, so they still can’t go.”

Steinberg emphasized that the Educational Investment Tax Credit program began at $30 million and has ballooned to $550 million – and said 89% is spent on private schools.

But there’s no achievement data available in Pennsylvania to let parents know how well those children are doing compared with other schools.


por Danielle Smith, Keystone State News Connection

El sindicato de maestros de Pensilvania expresa su preocupacion de que el programa de vales para escuelas publicas del estado afecte negativamente la educacion publica en familias y comunidades de bajos ingresos. La propuesta mas reciente asignaria mil millones de dolares adicionales a la educacion K-12, lo que afectaria a mas de 1.7 millones de estudiantes, y no incluye ningun financiamiento para programas de vales escolares. Arthur Steinberg es presidente de la Federacion Estadounidense de Maestros en Pensilvania. Dice que los programas de Credito Fiscal a la Inversion Educativa permiten a los padres enviar a sus hijos a escuelas privadas y religiosas, si creen que la escuela publica tiene un rendimiento deficiente, desviando fondos de las escuelas publicas.

“Van a escuelas, a las que se les permite discriminar basandose en cualquier hecho, religion, genero, creencias politicas, cualquier cosa que quieran. No hay ninguna restriccion sobre ese dinero. Y no hay responsabilidad sobre como se gasta. Por lo tanto, la eleccion realmente recae en las escuelas, no en los estudiantes, por lo que no hay ningun beneficio para ellos,” insistio el entrevistado.

Steinberg senala que el Proyecto de Ley del Senado 1057, presentado este mes, financiaria $300 millones en becas para estudiantes de escuelas privadas, cuando las escuelas publicas carecen de fondos suficientes en unos $5.4 mil millones, segun la decision del Tribunal de la Commonwealth. Agrega que desviar fondos amplia las brechas, sin mejorar la educacion ni la equidad.

Steinberg explica que el programa de vales escolares no excluye las areas de baja riqueza, sino que beneficia principalmente a las personas ricas que pueden pagar la matricula de una escuela privada.

“En realidad es una ayuda para las personas mas ricas que ya estan en esas escuelas. Si le das a una familia que vive por debajo del nivel de pobreza $7.000 para ir a una escuela donde la matricula es de $28.000, de todos modos no pueden pagar la diferencia, por lo que todavia no pueden ir,” expreso tambien el entrevistado.

Steinberg enfatiza que el programa de Credito Fiscal a la Inversion Educativa comenzo con $30 millones y se ha disparado a 550 millones, y dice que el 89% se gasta en escuelas privadas. Pero no hay datos de rendimiento disponibles en Pensilvania que permitan a los padres saber que tan bien les esta yendo a esos ninos en comparacion con otras escuelas.

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