Voucher programs take taxpayer dollars from public schools to pay for private and religious schools without holding those schools accountable for student achievement. Repackaged under different names and legislative proposals, or with slightly different requirements, the general concept of a voucher program is the same.
While vouchers are described as an option to help students from poverty or enrolled in low-performing schools, multiple studies have found that students participating in voucher programs in other states often end up doing worse academically. Vouchers do nothing to improve the education of all students in the district and leave behind may students, including those with special needs.
Vouchers plans siphon millions of dollars from school districts, many that are already under-resourced, to benefit private schools. And while public schools have strong accountability measures for public meetings, transparency, governance, academic achievement, testing/reporting and financial responsibilities, private schools have almost complete autonomy over how they operate.
Various proposals have been considered in Pennsylvania. During the 2017-18 legislative session, PSBA and public school advocates successfully blocked a proposal under Senate Bill 2 to establish vouchers called Education Savings Accounts (ESA).
In the 2019-20 legislative session, PSBA is working to oppose efforts to push another type of voucher plan under House Bill 1800 that establishes a program for students in a single district and sets the stage for expansion to a statewide voucher program.