EDITORIAL: Tuition Vouchers Deserve Their Day in NJ, PA
Posted on Friday January 21, 2011 | New Jersey, Pennsylvania
From The Express-Times in Pennsylvania:
Just as New Jersey and Pennsylvania are facing the biggest budget deficits in history, their respective governors and legislatures are getting serious about an education reform almost given up for dead: tuition vouchers. Both states are looking to offer tax-supported vouchers, which could be used for private or other public schools, to low-income families in the worst-performing districts.
Even in times of economic distress, the resurgence of vouchers is a welcome sign. The most immediate hurdle is how to make such a program affordable without driving up costs that are passed along to the public, notably property owners.
Yet voucher programs are worth trying — assuming the legislatures target these tax-subsidized options to the people who need them most.
In New Jersey, a voucher bill focused on the 12 worst school districts is now getting a hearing in a Senate committee. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett gave a shout-out to vouchers in his inaugural address. The legislation getting the most attention, Senate Bill 1, is even more ambitious than New Jersey’s plan, starting on a limited basis the first year and expanding to cover all low-income kids in the state by the third year.
A tall order, that.
Both states want to finance vouchers with corporate donations in return for tax breaks. That’s a defendable strategy, but it’s a taxpayer subsidy nonetheless.