EDITORIAL: PA Paper Is Latest to Support Vouchers

From The Bucks County Courier Times in Pennsylvania:

Two Pennsylvania senators – Philadelphia Democrat Anthony Williams and Dauphin/York County Republican Jeff Piccola – have introduced a bill to use tax money to pay for tuition vouchers that low-income students could in turn use to attend a public or private school of their choice.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association predictably was quick to condemn the idea. Public school districts don’t want any tax money siphoned away from them. They will never agree to any plan that threatens their monopoly on education.

Parents with the financial means can and do opt to assume the added burden of private education for their sons and daughters. But those with limited resources can’t do that. They are forced to send their children to a designated public school. Too often, not only in Pennsylvania but across the country, schools that serve low-income populations are a disaster, and they have no incentive to improve. The kids are trapped.

Gov. Tom Corbett made clear during his election campaign his support for making public money available for tuition at parochial and other private schools. He said schools “have a monopoly, and if they’re not competitive, they’re going to continue to lose that money.”

We’re fortunate here in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Our schools aren’t plagued with the problems dragging down so many urban districts. But every school district could profit from healthy competition. And just throwing more money at problem schools has been shown time and again to be a futile, wasteful exercise.

Schools that provide an excellent learning environment with dedicated teachers who challenge and nurture their students – where young people feel comfortable and valuable and parents know their children are receiving a well-rounded education – have no reason to fear school vouchers. Schools that don’t measure up have every reason to fear, and that’s the point. Underperforming school districts that see no reason to change aren’t going to. Put those districts in a situation where they have to compete for students and the money each of them represents and they’ll have to shape up to survive.