Neither more nor less: How Pa. education spending can be different
State budget negotiations are full of false dichotomies. We are forced to choose loyalties between public, charter, or private schools. But is that really our only choice? While policymakers debate whether to spend more or less on education, perhaps we might ask, “How can we spend differently?”
Is there a means by which we can fund public education and empower families to make the best educational decision for their children?
I think of students like Daryl, one of our Logos Academy students, who needed a smaller learning environment in order to be successful. His grandmother used to boldly declare that the love and careful attention he received at Logos Academy enabled him to overcome his social and emotional learning challenges.
She firmly believed that the power of school choice changed Daryl’s life for the better. We can do the same for hundreds of thousands of other children by allowing families to find schools that best fit their learning needs.
For families with students attending the lowest-performing schools in PA, a Lifeline Scholarship Program would provide money that follows their children, whether they choose public, charter, or private schools. Each scholarship would offer families about $7,000 for approved educational expenses, such as tuition, tutoring, and special education services.
Meanwhile, school districts retain most of the $21,000 they get in revenue per student. This ensures that no public school districts are left behind simply because a student learns better elsewhere.
For too long, parents and educators have felt inclined to pick a side: public or private. It’s a false dichotomy that pits us against each other. In reality, we can preserve ample resources for public schools while offering options to families who feel their children need something different.
Pennsylvanians widely support school choice for everyone. In a statewide poll, 77 percent of Pennsylvania voters agreed that all kids should have access to the best public schools regardless of location and that arbitrary boundaries force vulnerable children into underperforming schools.