September 25 — 11:33 am, 2002

Court’s voucher ruling stirs action in PA

In the wake of a June U.S. Supreme Court decision that a school voucher program in Cleveland is constitutional, officials in Harrisburg are again debating whether to provide state funding for vouchers to help parents to pay for private and religious schools.

The Supreme Court ruling said that taxpayer funds could go to religious schools as long as families have other schooling options available.

In one voucher-type initiative, State Rep. Dwight Evans from Philadelphia has authored "The Chance Initiative." He says it would "provide educational alternatives" by allowing students in Philadelphia and other "failing" schools and districts to transfer to other public or private schools and have the per-pupil school funding allotment follow them to their new school. Action could come on the proposal before the end of the legislative session November 30.

Opponents argue that vouchers would siphon scarce state resources away from already underfunded public schools, and that private schools should not get taxpayer funds because they lack accountability and do not have to serve all students.

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