Corbett’s Voucher Proposal Roundup
By David Gerber, Contributing Writer
It’s an interesting issue, namely because Republican support for the plan is unclear. It’s still a priority in the PA Senate, where most possible proposals have favorable odds of passing. In the House, however, a number of Republicans (particularly rural ones) aren’t too excited about it.
In Pennsylvania as in most states, school enrollment is based off of geographic location. If you live in area “X,” you will go to school “Y.” Voucher proponents argue that this produces a lack of quality in some state institutions, since they are guaranteed to receive enrollment.
The school voucher system is designed to award state or federal money to families with low incomes that have children in a lower quality institution, and allow those families to be able to send their children to a private institution of their choice.
Critics say it’s simply a way of using funding for public education to boost private schools. They further note that none of the voucher proposals so far would have given impoverished families enough of a financial boost to pay the average PA private school tuition.
Corbett’s voucher proposal has been in the making for some time now, with mixed reviews on the plan. Here are some of the latest stories about vouchers’ progress and what the measure will face in the PA Senate and House.
Gov. Corbett’s voucher proposal including vouchers, charter school improvements and economic furloughs on teachers could be released as early as next week. There seems to be some support in the Senate for the bill but the House remains lukewarm about the idea.
Vouchers given to students in failing schools and poor families can amount up to $7000 or more. Although, House Majority leader Mike Turzai says that the Senate needs to first pass the bill and the governor needs to marshal public opinion behind that bill. Senate leaders have said until Corbett can get the House GOP leaders to sign off on a bill, they will not pass one.
Corbett is an advocate of school choice – providing tuition vouchers to students to attend a private or parochial school of their choice. The Senate and the House considered school choice before the summer recess, but neither chamber voted on the bill. There is a compromise that the Governor and the two chambers must come to in order for it to see a move.
The Governor declined to give too many details, but emphasized that he will have something “very clear” to say about education reform in the near future. There have been many advocates pressing for school choice since January, and welcomed Corbett’s comments.
Within the next two weeks, reports WITF, the Governor said he will release his proposed school reforms package bill which includes school choice, reform and vouchers. Corbett claims that this is his top legislative priority.