August 3, 2011

PSEA President: Vouchers shortchange public school students

PSEA President Jim Testerman questioned how Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration could support an expensive new entitlement program after cutting public school funding by $860 million in this year’s state budget.

“The governor told Pennsylvanians that he had to cut $860 million from our public schools,” Testerman said, in an August 3 statement. “Now, he wants to spend money that the state supposedly doesn’t have on a tuition voucher program that doesn’t work.”

Tuition voucher programs in other U.S. cities and states have not demonstrated improved student academic achievement, either for the children who enrolled in private schools using a tax-funded voucher, or for the students left behind in public schools, according to independent research.

Testerman offered his comments in response to testimony from proponents of private school tuition voucher plans offered during today’s House Education Committee meeting in Harrisburg. Testerman pointed out that school districts across Pennsylvania were forced to cut programs that work for students, eliminate more than 5,000 jobs, increase class sizes, and raise local property taxes in order to compensate for the unprecedented state funding cuts.

“No one knows how much a tuition voucher plan will cost, but Pennsylvanians can’t afford a nickel of it,” Testerman added. “This kind of spending is reckless, ill-advised, and dangerous for the students who learn in Pennsylvania’s public schools.”

In contrast, Testerman pointed out that Pennsylvania’s public schools have posted dramatic achievement gains over the past decade. Between 2002 and 2010, the percentage of students scoring “proficient” or better on the state PSSA exam has increased in all three tested grade levels. On the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) exam in reading and math, Pennsylvania’s results are among the top 10 states in the nation. 

“Our public schools work and tuition voucher plans don’t. It’s that simple,” Testerman said. “I hope legislators will keep that in mind.” 


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