PA Principals Association Opposes Voucher Bill

Taking a page from Betsy DeVos’ book, the state House Education Committee is planning to vote on a tuition voucher bill next Monday – and it could see a full House vote next week.

The bill would offer vouchers to students in the Harrisburg School District, just when the district is starting to recover from years of fiscal crisis. 

If we let this happen to kids in Harrisburg, this voucher scheme could eventually impact other school districts in Pennsylvania. 

Contact your state representative ASAP and ask him or her to OPPOSE House Bill 1800.

Here’s what you need to know.

PA Rep. Mike Turzai and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos love tuition vouchers, and they’re targeting Harrisburg School District as their first voucher experiment in Pennsylvania. 

Here is what Rep. Turzai’s HB 1800 does:

  • Provides tuition vouchers worth up to $8,200 to students in Harrisburg School District.
  • Targets Harrisburg School District because it has had a history of fiscal crisis, even when it is starting to turn itself around.
  • Costs the school district up to $8.5 million if between 10 and 20 percent of students utilize the tuition vouchers.
  • Offers no accountability for the education of students who use tuition vouchers to attend private schools.

Voucher Schemes Don’t Work

We know voucher schemes don’t work, because we’ve seen students who use vouchers end up doing worse academically than their public-school peers. Just this year, a study of a Louisiana voucher program found that it hurt students’ math scores. We also know Harrisburg School District can’t afford to lose $8.5 million.

So, contact your state representative today. And tell him or her to vote “NO” on HB 1800.

Message to legislators:

Please oppose HB 1800 and any other legislation that would establish a tuition voucher program for students in the Harrisburg School District.

Speaker Turzai’s voucher scheme could end up costing the Harrisburg School District up to $8.5 million in state funding and would create a new government mandate using state tax dollars to fund half of the cost of the voucher program, forcing taxpayers to pay for two education systems. Tuition vouchers siphon money from public schools to religious and private schools without holding those schools accountable for student achievement. In fact, HB 1800 expressly prohibits additional accountability requirements on non-public schools. Even more egregious, Rep. Turzai’s voucher bill enables discriminatory admission practices and would allow non-public schools to refuse students, including those with special needs.

What’s more, countless studies, including a recent 25-year meta-analysis from the University of Stanford, prove that vouchers do nothing to improve student achievement and distract us from real solutions that could yield much better results.

This is a mandate that the Harrisburg School District doesn’t want, and if enacted, would undermine the Financial Recovery Act by taking millions away from a financially distressed school district and disrupting its recovery process.

Please remain focused on ensuring that every student in every community has equal access to an excellent system of public education.

Please oppose HB 1800 or any other bill that would create a taxpayer-funded voucher program.


Click here to find your state representative.