AAUW opposes SB2 vouchers

HOLLE CANATELLA

Lock Haven

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Lock Haven is deeply disappointed that on Oct. 24, Pennsylvania state Sen. Joseph Scarnati, R-25th District, voted in the Senate Education Committee to approve Senate Bill 2, legislation that would bring a new generation of school vouchers called education savings accounts (ESAs) to Pennsylvania.

ESAs are a new and costly government entitlement program for families who live in the attendance area of a low-performing school.

They provide families who withdraw their children from public schools with a taxpayer-funded pot of money (approximately $5,700 per year) to spend on their children’s private education.

The money that fills each student’s ESA is subtracted from the state funding that is allocated to the student’s school district.

ESAs drain desperately-needed taxpayer dollars from public schools and will put more pressure on property taxes to fill in the budget hole they create.

ESAs do not guarantee that children in low-performing schools will be able to attend the private school of their choice.

In fact, ESAs enshrine discrimination against Pennsylvania’s children by allowing private schools that accept taxpayer dollars to discriminate against students on the basis of gender, religion, and disability status.

In many cases the amount of the ESA is not enough to cover the full cost of private school tuition, so families with low and modest incomes will not be able to use them. Instead, ESAs will benefit well-to-do families who can use these taxpayer dollars to supplement their children’s private education.

ESAs are expensive to administer and ripe for waste and fraud.

Moreover, oversight and accountability are limited. Arizona, which has had ESAs for 6 years, has seen money siphoned to make non-educational purchases and other fraud. Once families spend these taxpayer dollars, it is almost impossible to recover them.

Senate Bill 2 did not pass out of committee on Oct. 24.

However, this bill can be called up for a vote at any time.

Sen. Scarnati’s constituents who support public education should give his office a call at 717-787-7084 and tell him to oppose education savings accounts and to instead support funding for our local public schools.

(This letter was submitted by Holle Canatella, President, American Association of University Women, Lock Haven, on behalf of AUW Lock Haven executive board members as follows: Julie Story, Membership vice president; Kim Emery, Membership vice persident; Kate Fiegel, Program vice president; Marla Kramer, Program vice president; Katie Ely, Financial Officer; Linda Frye, Parliamentary Advisor, and Tulare Park, Diversity Chair.)

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