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Letter: Know the Issues Around SB2 and Educational Savings Accounts

on April 16, 2018 4:30 AM

Within the next few weeks, the PA legislature is considering a bill, Senate Bill 2, that will create a new type of educational savings account (ESA) system for children of the commonwealth that can be used for K-12 education. From studies of states enacting similar programs, several issues have come to light. 

Student data from states using similar ESA programs have not shown academic growth for students who use ESAs. Private schools that have no proven academic record or curriculum standards would be recipients of ESA funds; they are less likely to use a research-based curriculum, have professionally trained staff, or have oversight in terms of accountability measures. Non-public schools can reject students at any time for any reason; thus, students who enter this proposed ESA program at non-public schools forfeit their rights to a free appropriate public education.

SB2 allows ESA money to be spent with a variety of vendors, but the law has no audit measures making it ripe for fraudulent activity.  Last, the PA constitution prohibits sending taxpayer money to religious schools, which is certain to happen if SB2 is passed in its current form. 

A video with more information is found here. Please view this and take a minute to let your state senators and representatives know how you feel about SB 2 and the ESA issue. 

Carol Hodes

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