SB 2 – Education Savings Accounts (vouchers)

A letter from The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA)

SB 2 remains a high priority in the Senate. Under the bill, parents of students in low-achieving schools can receive funds in the form of Education Savings Accounts (ESA) to attend a participating nonpublic school and for other expenses. “Low-achieving” is defined as the lowest performing 15% of elementary and secondary public schools, based on PSSA and Keystone Exam scores. (However, this does not include charter schools or CTCs.) Those districts with low-performing schools would see their basic and special education subsidies reduced by the amount calculated for each participating student, with that money put into an ESA account for parents to use for “qualified education expenses.”

This week is School Choice Week, and supporters held a big rally yesterday at the Capitol in support of SB 2 and education savings accounts. There is continuing momentum for this bill, and, if the Senate Education Committee does not take it up next week, they likely will bring it up sooner rather than later. And, since they have changed the makeup of the committee (adding a pro-choice senator and removing one who opposed SB 2), there will be sufficient votes to pass it out of committee and get it to the Senate floor.

Gov. Wolf has said he would veto the bill should both the House and Senate pass it. We do know the bill is likely to come out of Senate Education and get to the floor. There is a slim chance we could stop it there. If it does pass the Senate, what would happen to it in the House is unknown. We believe it would be more difficult to reach consensus in that chamber.

What we need to do: It is VERY important that all school leaders and their district communities come out strongly against this bill. Because the Governor has said he will veto the bill, there could be many lawmakers who just vote for it, knowing it will not get past his desk. However, everyone needs to put some heat on their senators ASAP and let them know what this bill actually will do and what its impact really will be. We have to make sure they have all the information they need to know what it is they are actually voting for, rather than just the spin they are hearing. It must not be an easy vote; they must know how many folks are against this bill and not just hear from those who support it. The goal is to prevent it from passing it out of the Senate.

Please share this information with your colleagues and urge them to contact their senators ASAP. We need to raise the heat on this bill!