NO VOUCHERS FOR YOU
As you are aware, the Senate passed the school voucher bill (SB1) last week with 60 pages of amendments. Although the bill has three main parts; vouchers for low-income students, charter school reforms and an Educational Improvement Tax Credit increase, our focus right now is the inequity in the voucher program. It is being touted that school choice saves lives , yet only low-income families' lives will be saved under SB1. It is unconscionable that our Senators would claim that SB1 would rescue all children from failing schools, when thousands of children will be left behind simply because of their income.
For example, Duquesne Consolidated School students who are low-income would qualify for a $13,905 voucher yet the "working poor" and "middle income families" will be left to fend for themselves in violent failing schools. $13,905 dollars? Why are we subsidizing failing schools, making life or death decisions based soley on income AND handing out $13 thousand dollar checks. If our legislators truly cared about rescuing students from the bottom 5% labeled persistently failing schools, they would rescue all students who are at risk. SB1 is an atrocity. What is even more disheartening is the fact that the "working poor" and the "middle income" families believe that they are included in SB1. It is highly unlikely that they will ever be included in any choice bill. The government is taking clear advantage of those families who have been able to make that financial sacrifice to send their children to private school. For those families that cannot afford to do so, you are being sentenced to attend a failing school where violence is inevitable.
The Coalition for Real School Choice, a group of 22 grassroots organizations has been focused on rescuing all students from failing schools. We have come to terms with the "voucher" concept simply because our legislators are married to the idea of vouchers and they are incapable of thinking outside the "school choice" box. At this point, the only viable option for rescuing all students from failing schools has been the voucher program. It is our intent to push the envelope and start a new dialogue of Educational Savings Accounts once this debate is settled. We have a lot of work to do this month.
Duquesne City SD
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