Ted Kirsch slams Senate voucher bill

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Statement by AFTPA President Ted Kirsch
on Senate Education Committee passage of SB 2 - ESA voucher bill

The Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 2 on a 7-5 vote Tuesday, May 23, largely along party lines. AFTPA President Ted Kirsch released the following statement and vowed to fight to defeat the bill. Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, a Bucks County Republican, crossed party lines to oppose the bill.

"The Senate Education Committee’s vote yesterday to move Senate Bill 2 to the Senate floor was fiscally irresponsible and tone deaf. A majority of Pennsylvanians oppose education savings accounts, which are vouchers by another name, and half of the state’s 500 school boards have adopted resolutions opposing ESA vouchers, and with good reason.

"SB 2 siphons money directly from neighborhood public schools, which serve 90 percent of the children in Pennsylvania, and give it – without a shred of accountability – to private and religious schools and private companies that see education as a money-making enterprise. The flawed bill gets taxpayers to fund a huge new entitlement program, and a giant bureaucracy, that will only grow over time.

"The truth that voucher proponents refuse to face is that in 20 years of experimenting with ESAs, vouchers and education tax credits, these schemes haven’t delivered on promises of higher student achievement or better graduation rates. In fact, in many instances, voucher students actually lose ground in reading and math when compared to children who remain in public school.

"The only promise SB 2 will deliver on is the one that politicians made to hedge fund billionaires and big donors like Betsy DeVos to defund and dismantle neighborhood public schools and turn public education over to companies that see our children as new profit centers.

"Governor Wolf understands the value of investing in our schools, students and teachers, and we urge him to veto Senate Bill 2, should it reach his desk."

Vote: YEA - Alloway, Aument, Browne, DiSanto, Folmer, Eichelberger and Scarnati. NO - Brewster, Dinniman, Leach, Tomlinson and Williams.