April 11, 2011

Pennsylvania opinion polls show widespread opposition to vouchers

A new opinion poll makes it clear - Pennsylvanians oppose proposals to create a tax-funded tuition voucher scheme.

PSEA President Jim Testerman said today’s release of findings from Terry Madonna Opinion Research shows that by a wide margin,  the citizens of Pennsylvania do not like the idea of a state-funded program for some parents to enroll their children in private, parochial or religious schools.

"A voucher program, on top of nearly $1.2 billion in funding cuts proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, creates a double whammy that will harm public education," Testerman said. "The majority of Pennsylvanians agree that Pennsylvania can’t afford an expensive new voucher."

By nearly a 2-to-1 margin (61 percent opposed, 37 percent support, 3 percent unsure), Pennsylvanians oppose the idea of tax-funded private school vouchers. Testerman noted that the survey revealed that the support for vouchers decreases if it means increased transportation costs and less money available for local public schools. "Those consequences are precisely what would occur if voucher legislation pending in the General Assembly were to be enacted into law," Testerman said.

District specific information on the potential property tax impact of the voucher legislation pending in the General Assembly, is available on the Pennsylvanians Opposed to Vouchers website, www.paopposedtovouchers.org.

The survey released today by POV surveyed 807 Pennsylvanians in March and had a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Pennsylvanians included in the survey backed other reform proposals, such as providing tutors to struggling students, requiring teacher certification in subject area and grade level, removing disruptive students, and limiting class sizes, over vouchers.

"Spending taxpayer money on private school vouchers will make cuts to public school programs even more severe,” Testerman said. “School districts are already cutting programs that work for students – just to balance their budgets."

Senate Bill 1, the voucher legislation introduced in the General Assembly, also contains hidden costs, such as transportation and an expensive new bureaucracy to run the voucher program, Testerman noted.

"We should focus on proven strategies that work for children and focus special attention on the struggling children and schools," Testerman said. PSEA supports efforts to improve conditions in struggling schools, including: creation of a safe school environment; promotion of effective parental and family involvement to support their children's education; high-quality early childhood education; improved student health services; individualized support for students who are struggling academically; high-quality teachers and school leaders; and improved curriculum.

More information on the latest Madonna Opinion Research survey can be found on the coalition’s website, www.paopposedtovouchers.org.


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