What Do You Think When I Say School?

That is an important question anymore here in PA.  Traditionally we have had a strong  public school system and in addition there are many quality private systems.  Recently Charter schools were introduced to the mix.  Now the Republican Governor is pushing to get vouchers instituted in PA.  These will allow, according to SB1 students in failing schools to get money to attend a public charter, or a private school and the money that the state spends on students will follow the student.

Orginally when the plan was first formulated there was an income limit placed on students in failing schools.  If a family of 4 made over 30,000 dollars then they were out of the program.  Recent changes to that made it a “comprehensive  program”.  That means that it is now a program that will be available to all students if and only if they are in a “failing school”.

So who gets to decide what schools are failing?  Well, that has pretty much already been decided.  An awful lot of the schools are in Philly, and Pittsburgh and Lancaster, and Norristown and in the Poconos and in Lebanon and in Connellsville, and well the list goes on.

So what about Pottstown?

Well, Pottstown is on the list with one school and that is the Middle School.  It is listed as a “tier III” school which  means it’s outside of the parameters required for schools that have to make immediate changes to their programs in order to qualify for educational grants.  So what does that mean for families who might want to remove their children from local schools and take advantage of the new voucher program?

Well, it means we aren’t included for the most part.

Will that change?

I’d love to be able to answer that question.  Unfortunately, right now I can’t.  I hate to be suspicious like some other folks are but those people are suggesting that this voucher program is a real benefit to politicians mostly because private investors are plumping the campaign coffers of the folks that promise that schools of the future will have less government oversight.

For people that think government is the problem this process sounds like heaven.  But for PA citizens- to vote to take the government out of educating our students in this state means we are losing part of what made PA unique.  It may be illegal and it may violate PA’s own constitution to stop educating our children.

For the folks that want “Choice” there is a legitimate question about this actually being about real choices.  Is something a choice if you are only given certain options?

Personally I have no skin in the game.  I won’t be harmed  no matter what happens.  I don’t support unionized teachers and I don’t stand to make a buck as part of any charters.  I just care because I’m worried about selling out Pennsylvania’s kids.

For the people who are making laws or for the taxpayers objecting to taxes- their arguments are long term.  For students we only have a couple of years!

You have to forgive me because my thoughts aren’t well laid out.  I’m sucking down information as fast as I can and I’ll bet that whatever I say or think won’t really matter.  This ship has sailed!  Vouchers are part of our future and private investors will take over the education of kids in PA.

My worry is instead of a company store, we’ll have a company school.  For some people that will work fine, but I’m not really sure why  we are pushing for that model?

I hope someone will think this through with me.  I could use the help.



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