Who will stand in the way of progress for students?
June 13, 2023 | Sharon Sedlar
The battle over K-12 education continues, but has seemed to come to a head in the last month of the legislative (and budget approval) season. Deals are made, votes are taken, legislation is passed and budgets are approved. Many avenues exist by which the outcome of these negotiations can improve education for Pennsylvania students – particularly the ones most in need of choice outside of their assigned school district. Will our legislature be brave enough to provide for those students? Time will tell, and we look forward to seeing the outcome.
Lifeline Scholarship Program
Under the Lifeline Scholarship program, children who reside within a district school area that is in the bottom 15% of performance metrics would be eligible to use about $7,000 towards an alternative academic setting. The funds could be used for tuition, textbooks, curriculum, tutoring, or services for students with special needs. The accounts would be administered by the state treasurer, like the existing 529 program. The balance of funding (about $13,000) would remain with the school district.
Governor Shapiro was very vocal in his support for this program prior to his election, stating in October to PennLive’s editorial board that:
“This is not an either/or. This is a both/and. We have to find ways to come together on this issue… It starts by making sure our public schools are fully funded… We do a disservice to our children when we try and take away opportunities from them.-Governor Shapiro
We need to make sure all God’s children have the opportunity to succeed and it starts by making sure every single one of them, regardless of their socio-economic status, regardless of the zip code they’re from, or regardless of their skin color, get an opportunity to succeed… We can have choice in our school system and we can have well-funded schools… We can do both those things together.”
For more information on the Lifeline Scholarship:
Established Scholarship programs
The EITC and OSTC programs provide scholarships to students through private donations, helping almost 63,000 students across Pennsylvania. Because demand exceeds supply, annual lotteries are held for new applicants.
76,000 students were denied scholarships last year due to caps on education tax credit programs, despite waitlisted funding in excess of $100 million.
These programs provide children with education, resources, and refuge. They help families provide their children with a better chance in life. Programs just like the Lifeline Scholarship have been created in other states with amazing results, improving the lives of countless children – and we’ve seen for ourselves the massive benefit of the OSTC and EITC programs to our own Pennsylvania students.
With all of these possibilities, who will continue to stand in the way?