Pattye Benson

Community Matters

SB 1

Proposed School Voucher Bill (SB 1) Unstalled and Inching Forward

Thank you to Larry Feinberg, for the following update on the proposed school voucher legislation. Sounds like SB 1 is ‘unstalled’ and is moving forward again.

HI Pattye –

Here’s the latest update on the voucher bill SB1:

Allentown Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog
John Micek, April 27, 5:49 p.m.

Senate Repubs, Corbett Reach Agreement On Voucher Bill

Senate Republicans And Gov. Tom Corbett have apparently resolved their differences over a stalled school vouchers bill, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said this afternoon. Because we have friends in all the wrong places, here’s the amendatory language that’s under consideration (this part is strictly for the Trainspotters amongst you):

· Effective date of Implementation of Opportunity Scholarships and EITC increase/changes delayed until July 1, 2012.
· New timeline as a result:
· 2012-2013 – Year One – Low-income children in failing schools eligible for Opportunity
· Scholarships;
· 2013-2014 – Year Two – Low-income children in attendance boundaries of failing schools;
· 2014-2015 – Year Three – All low-income children statewide.
· As a result, there will be no significant budgetary costs in the upcoming fiscal year.
· Year Three Opportunity Scholarship recipients will be capped at 3% of the previous year’s Basic Education Funding (BEF) appropriation – projected at approximately $163 million in 2014-2015.
· PDE will administer the program.
· The Education Opportunity Board will remain in place in an advisory capacity and to approve the guidelines issued by PDE.
· The Governor will appoint the initial three members of the Education Opportunity Board with successor appointments confirmed by the Senate (modeled after the Philadelphia School Reform Commission).
· PDE’s definition of “LOW-ACHIEVING SCHOOLS” will be utilized with a separate ranking of elementary and secondary schools focusing on the bottom 5% of combined math and reading scores on most recent PSSA.
· In Year Four (2015-2016):
· Entire amount in the Excess Fund will start funding the Public School Choice Demonstration Grants for school districts to establish their own tuition grant programs (Public to Public) and for funding the Middle-Income Scholarship Program;
· Middle-Income Scholarship Program eligibility will increase to 350% of Federal Poverty ($78,225 for a family of four).

Read more:

School Voucher (Senate Bill 1) Vote on Bill Delayed . . . What Does this Mean?

The proposed legislation to create a school voucher program for Pennsylvania (Senate Bill 1) was approved by the Senate Appropriation Committee on Monday, April 11 with a vote of 15-11 but a scheduled Tuesday, April 12 vote on the bill was delayed until April 26 at the earliest . . . what does this mean for the future of SB 1? Sometimes, a delay can mean that a bill is in trouble, is that the case here?

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Gov. Corbett is not letting go of the proposed school voucher plan, or at least not easily. Apparently, in an unusual move (and rarely done by governors), Corbett appeared before the closed-door caucus of the Senate GOP to argue in favor of the school choice legislation. I guess it was thought that by bringing in the ‘big guns’ the bill could be pushed through the Senate but it appears that idea didn’t work as planned.

SB 1 would allow students (based on family income eligibility) to attend private or parochial schools of their choice with state-paid vouchers. The projected costs associated with the implementation of a school voucher program are estimated by Senate Republicans to be at least $328 million by 2013. However, there is pushback on that number by the Democrats, who estimate the annual costs are actually higher, their estimate is $385 million by 2013.

The stated reason for delaying the Senate vote to April 26 is that one of the co-sponsors of the bill, Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia), is ill. However, that does not make sense because Williams could vote by proxy from his home. My guess is that even with Corbett’s encouragement (arm-twisting?) it was determined that there were not enough votes for the SB 1 to pass the Senate on April 12 and the administration is hoping the delay to April 26 will provide persuasion opportunities.

Guess we will have to wait until April 26 and see if there is a Senate vote on SB 1. If the 26th comes and goes, it would appear that the proposed school choice bill is dead in the water. On the other hand, is it possible that the school voucher bill could fail in the Senate and be reincarnated in the House?

The outcome of SB 1 could prove interesting for Corbett, since this is the first major legislation that he has pushed since taking office. Facing pressure in regards to his proposed funding cuts to public education, maybe the Governor will decide against further pushing of the school choice legislation.

Tredyffrin Resident Christine Johnson Says NO to SB 1 . . . Making your Voice Count!

There has been much discussed about the proposed school voucher bill, SB 1. But Tredyffrin resident Christine Johnson is doing more than just talking . . . she’s taking her voice and saying NO to SB 1. Christine adopted her ‘Resolution Opposing Senate Bill 1’ (below) and sent it to Senator Andy Dinniman and State Rep Warren Kampf. According to Christine, ” . . . they need our support in order to say ‘NO’ . . . “

Creating change starts with one person –I am proud of Christine and applaud her effort to show all that your voice can count! If you are interested in following Christine’s example, here are email addresses:

State Rep Warren Kampf:
State Sen Andy Dinniman:


By Christine E. Johnson
986 Mt. Pleasant Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087

WHEREAS, school districts in the Commonwealth have continued to make steady gains in academic achievement and create innovative and effective
programs and curricula for all public school students and Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation to have increased academic achievement in every subject, at all tested grade levels and for all ethnic, racial and
economic subgroups of students from 2002 through 2008; and

WHEREAS, the implementation of a tuition voucher program, over-expansion of any existing tax credit program or incentivizing a student’s transfer out of the public education system in any way takes financial resources away from traditional public schools and diminishes the great strides that have been made in those schools and increases the burden on property taxpayers and their resident school districts working toward greater academic successes; and

WHEREAS, unlike nonpublic and private schools, public school districts in the Commonwealth accept and educate children regardless of race,
ethnicity, gender, religion or academic talents, as opposed to those institutions that are able to reject applicants based on low academic performance, discipline issues or any number of other factors; and

WHEREAS, unlike nonpublic and private schools, public schools in the Commonwealth are held to strict accountability standards in an effort to
measure student achievement and academic progress, unlike private and parochial schools which are not required to give state assessments or
publish student achievement data; and

WHEREAS, there is no consistent evidence to demonstrate that students who utilize vouchers make any better academic progress in nonpublic or private schools than they did prior to transferring; and

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Christine E. Johnson opposes Senate Bill 1 and any other legislation or any effort by the General Assembly to implement a tuition voucher program in the Commonwealth or any other program that would have an effect similar to that of a tuition voucher program, and encourages its elected officials to oppose the same.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Christine E. Johnson directs her legislators to take immediate action about the need to oppose Senate Bill 1 and the negative consequences on the school district and the public education system at large and to provide a copy of this resolution to them.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Christine E. Johnson will encourage others, including parents, students and district taxpayers, to contact the
Pennsylvania General Assembly to convey the importance of supporting public education in the Commonwealth.

Adopted this 31st day of March 2011.


Christine E. Johnson

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