Education Savings Accounts (ESA) are vouchers that takes state tax money out of neighborhood public schools for use at private schools. ESA voucher proposals are being pushed in other states as foot-in-the-door schemes for greater taxpayer support for private schools and vendors. Whereas traditional public education entities have strict requirements for public meetings, transparency, governance, academic achievement, testing/reporting and financial accountability, such requirements don’t exist and wouldn’t exist for entities receiving tax dollars from ESAs.
ESA voucher proposals that have been considered in Pennsylvania would take money away from a school district’s state subsidy funding to be used at private and religious schools, private companies, tutors and even higher education expenses and a vague category of other “qualified education expenses.” The impact of such a plan would siphon millions of dollars from school districts, many that are already under-resourced, to benefit private schools. ESA vouchers are state-funded subsidies for private schools. The state cannot afford to fund public and private school systems.
ESA voucher plans weaken and undermine the public education system by taking necessary funds from schools to pay for the vouchers for eligible students. All this is done without regard for the students who are ineligible to receive vouchers and without concern about the quality of education they will receive.