Sean Dempsey

On School Voucher Question, State Rep Kampf offers a ‘Wait and See Approach’

On Thursday, March 3, I emailed State Rep. Warren Kampf in regards to the proposed school voucher legislation. I followed up my email with a telephone call to his Paoli office on March 7.  At that time, his chief of staff, Sean Dempsy spoke with Rep. Kampf re my email and offered that Rep. Kampf would have a response to me by the end of the week.  Here is an excerpt from my email to our State Representative, which I posted on Community Matters last week:

“ . . . There has been much discussion about the proposed school voucher bill S.B.1. which would help the state’s poorest children from the lowest-performing schools by providing options of attending public, private or parochial school. This week the Senate Education Committee voted 8-2 in favor of the bill and the proposed legislation will move forward in the process.

It is important for constituents to know where our elected officials stand on all important issues, including the school voucher program. State Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) serves on the Senate Education Committee and voted in favor of the proposed school voucher legislation.  As our State Representative, could you please offer your thoughts on the proposed ‘opportunity scholarship’ legislation?  In your response, please address specific issues including the plan’s estimated price tag of $860 million, the constitutionality of the proposed legislation and the issue of funding parochial schools with taxpayer money.”

Rep. Kampf did not respond to my email.  At 5 PM today, I received an email from Dempsey referring me to the State Rep’s website to read his position on school choice . . .  Rep. Kampf’s “wait and see approach” (see below).

Kampf Praises Creative Solutions, Cautious on ‘School Choice’

3/11/2011
By Rep. Warren Kampf, 157th District 

Competition is critical to the efficiency of any enterprise, whether it is businesses competing for consumers by becoming more cost-effective or schools improving their teaching methods to lure students.  There is a place for competition in our education system. 

But before we adopt any so-called “school choice” proposal, we must examine whether the new system costs the state and school districts more money or subsidizes inefficient private schools.   

At this stage, I am taking a wait and see approach.  As for Senate Bill 1, it is difficult to comment on a bill that will be significantly transformed by the time it reaches the House.  As is the case with another “school choice” bill, House Bill 240, I expect the legislature to pass numerous amendments to alter its rules and scope, though in what way I cannot yet predict.

I will just restate my position that whatever new system is tried, it should be done in a way that improves the overall quality of our state education system, and does not drive up costs for taxpayers and already cash-strapped schools without some very clear, tangible benefits to all of our children. 

I remain open to creative ideas for improving Pennsylvania’s public school system.  I am aware that the system works well in some districts, and is more troubled in others.  It is my goal to embrace what works and fix what needs improvement.

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