It’s a federal child indoctrination program to ensure that the next generation has an increasing number of voters who think science is a lie, white supremacy is heritage and the Bible is history – you know, people just gullible enough to believe a reality show TV star who regularly cheats on his many wives with porn stars is God’s chosen representative on Earth. A measure to make child kidnapping, imprisonment and wrongful death seem like a measured response to backward immigration policy. A measure to make collusion and fraternization with the world’s worst dictators and strongmen seem like global pragmatism.
To make matters even more galling, consider the timing of DeVos’ proposal.
This makes a few things strikingly clear: either (1) these folks have no idea what happens at authentic public schools or (2) they’re pretending not to know so as to further their political and financial ambitions.
It’s the difference between telling students the answer and getting them to think about the answer. It’s the difference between total certainty and doubt, between trite truths and useful skills that can help you arrive at deeper truths.
When you ask children to think, you never know what conclusions they’ll draw. When you tell children what to think, you know exactly what conclusions you want them to hold.
Authentic public schools do not indoctrinate. Conservatives graduate from these hallowed halls the same as liberals, moderates and the politically checked out. The difference is that in a world where facts are prized and logic is exercised, conservatism becomes less appealing.
I’m not saying liberalism or progressivism is guaranteed, but they are certainly more fact-based world views than their opposites.
We’ve seen the textbooks they use to teach. Their graduates have returned to the public square to tell us about the instruction they received.
The American Christian Education (ACE) group provides fundamentalist school curriculum to thousands of religious schools throughout the country. Included in this curriculum is the A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press textbooks. A Beka publishers, in particular, reported that about 9,000 schools nationwide purchase their textbooks.
In their pages you’ll find glowing descriptions of the Ku Klux Klan, how the massacre of Native Americans saved many souls, African slaves had really good lives, homosexuals are no better than rapists and child molesters, and progressive attempts at equal rights such as Brown vs. Board of Education were illegal and misguided. You know – all the greatest Trump campaign hits!
We should not be funding the spread of such ignorance.
Two years ago, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, she wanted to spend $20 billion on the same nonsense. Her party refused to back her.
Now with Democrats in control of the House, it seems even more unlikely that her plan will pass.
But sadly smaller scale versions of it have been allowed by state legislatures throughout the country – often with full support from Democrats.
My own state of Pennsylvania spends $125 million in taxpayer dollars on the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs to send children to private/religious schools. And every year legislators ask for more.
Why any Democrat would support conservative indoctrination programs is beyond me.
And this is true even though indoctrination is sometimes unavoidable.
Even the most fair-minded parents often want their children to hold at least some of the same values as they do. They want to be able to relate to their kids and view them as a continuation of the kinds of lives they lived.
But what’s okay for parents is not okay for governments.
Though parochial schools have metamorphosed into charter schools in Florida, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., this would be the first such transformation in Pennsylvania, according to Ana Meyers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
However, there are numerous red flags in the school’s application that make one wonder if operators are being entirely honest about giving up a faith-based curriculum.
First, there is the proposal by the school, itself.
The application does not specify that religious values will be taught in the classroom. However, its personnel budget lists a comparative religion teacher on staff. The list of proposed teachers also includes a middle/high school religious studies teacher.
That’s not exactly common practice at most public schools though teaching about religion in a secular context is allowed.
“Public schools may not teach religion, although teaching about religion in a secular context is permitted. The Bible may be taught in a school, but only for its historical, cultural or literary value and never in a devotional, celebratory or doctrinal manner, or in such a way that encourages acceptance of the Bible as a religious document.”
Even so, it’s awfully convenient that a school whose mission statement currently includes “We share Christ with our children daily and seek to help them grow into mature Christians” would somehow magically become secular overnight.
If Imani’s charter is approved, it would be required to discontinue any religious component in its curriculum. The state school code requires even charter schools to be “nonsectarian in all operations.” The proposed academy would not be permitted to display any religious objects or symbols on the premises.
Yet one wonders who will check to make sure this actually happens.
Will the few auditors tasked with keeping charter schools honest even be equipped to determine whether parochial schools suddenly turned charter actually refrain from ministering to students?
According to Public Source, a nonprofit digital newspaper covering the Pittsburgh area, one of the qualities Imani is looking for in an operator for its charter school is the ability to use the school building after-school hours for religious instruction and activities.
So during the day, there will be an entirely secular K-12 school at the site of the present day parochial school that just happens to teach comparative religious studies. Then at a certain time of day, it will transform into an optional religious school offering church functions!?
The proposed academy would also employ a principal at $85,000 annual salary.
That’s not exactly good reimbursement of services for the outlay of cash taxpayers are expected to pay.
Imani has struggled financially for several years.
In 2014, the school had more than $400,000 in additional expenses over its revenue, according to its form 990 filed with the IRS. The very next year, it had a budget surplus of almost the same amount. By 2016 – the most recent year on file – its expenses again were more than its revenue – this time by more than $500,000.
It’s just such financial uncertainties that are pushing Imani to become a charter school in the first place. Even with school vouchers, parochial schools rely heavily on tuition from parents. However, you always know where the money is coming from in a charter school. Like religious and private schools, these institutions are privately managed – but like public schools they’re funded entirely by taxpayers.
Pittsburgh school board held a public hearing on Imani’s application in December and earlier this month. Next, the district’s review team will offer its suggestions on the application. District solicitor Ira Weiss says the board is scheduled to vote on the matter at its Feb. 27 meeting.
If approved, the district would be required to pay for each student at the new charter school based on the district’s per-student spending formula.
The objections brought up here are really just the tip of the iceberg.
The proposal leaves many questions unanswered. For instance, though the new academy would be located within the geographical boundaries of the Pittsburgh Public School District, where would it get its students from? Would current students at the religious school get preferential enrollment – and what if they don’t already live in and pay taxes to Pittsburgh?
Let’s hope Pittsburgh school directors do the right thing and deny this request.
He hates science. He hates schools. He hates teachers. And if students get in the way, he’ll hate them, too.
These are the qualities he thinks Pennsylvanians are looking for in their next governor.
The York Township Republican will challenge incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf on Nov. 6, 2018.
So who is this guy?
Wagner’s a college dropout who made a fortune starting a garbage hauling firm. He became a state senator four years ago after winning a write in campaign during a special election where only 17% of the electorate could be bothered to vote.
And ever since, he’s been consistent about one thing: he really, Really, REALLY hates teachers.
“We have 180,000 teachers in the state of Pennsylvania,” Wagner said in 2015. “If we laid off 10 percent of the teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, we’d never miss them.”
That’s a deficit we still haven’t recovered from. Even today, state schools are staffed at a 10-year low. Class sizes are at an all time high.
Yet Wagner wants to fire even more teachers!?
That’s not the policy of a man who wants to help improve life throughout the state for all. That’s not the policy of a man who wants to help kids learn.
It’s the policy of a man who has a personal grudge against educators.
And his other legislative objectives?
Wagner wants to further slash education funding. He wants to spend whatever is left inequitably. And he really wants to help his heroes Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos enact school vouchers so business people like him can continue to cash in on children from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and all places between.
By contrast, in his four years in office, Gov. Wolf has pushed to increase education funding, pushed to spend it more fairly, and even cut the time it takes for students to take high stakes standardized tests.
The good news: voters throughout the Commonwealth have never had a clearer choice for governor.
The bad news: when has that ever stopped them from getting it wrong?
“We have created a special class in this state and the special class is the public sector union employee,” Wagner told Keystone Crossroads in a 2015 interview.
“Teachers are doing very well in this state,” he said. “People would be appalled if they knew what their teachers made, in certain areas.”
Unfortunately, Wagner has no idea, himself.
He keeps quoting a bogus salary figure that I’m not going to repeat. It’s not true statewide, it’s not an average, nor is it true in his home district.
In truth, the low end for teachers entering the field nationwide is around $30,000, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). So go to college, get a four – sometimes five – year degree including a rigorous internship of student teaching and you make a mere $10,000 above the most generous minimum wage!?
According to that data, Pennsylvania teachers make on average $63,063 per year. Of neighboring states, teachers in Maryland ($65,247) and New Jersey ($71,687) make more. Teachers in Ohio (59,063) and Delaware ($59,853) make less.
In other words, if prospective teachers want to make more money, all they have to do is switch majors.
That may be part of the reason for our national teachers shortage. Not only have states like ours laid off tens of thousands of educators, many don’t stay in the field if given the chance. Across the country , 46 percent of educators quit before reaching the five year mark. And it’s worse in urban districts, where 20 percent quit every single year!
“There are teachers that will exceed expectations while teaching a classroom of 100 of the toughest-to-teach students. There are also teachers that would struggle to teach just one student at a time. I want the first teacher to make a small fortune, and I want the second teacher to find a new career that is better suited for him or her.”
So if you teach the best students, you should make the most money? And if you teach struggling students, you should be fired?
But It’s Not Just Teachers. He Hates Other Working People, Too
If there is a corner to cut, he wants to take it – especially if it screws a working person. As a state senator, Wagner even introduced a bill that would exempt school districts from paying laborers the “prevailing wage” on construction projects.
Cheaper labor, shoddier work. That’s surely a recipe for success in buildings housing school children!
I’m sure reducing teaching to a career without benefits, workers rights or protections will do wonders for the educational quality students receive.
Teachers working conditions are students learning conditions. Putting children in a building that has fewer safety precautions because there’s no union to collectively bargain for them is a great way to cut costs. But parents aren’t thrilled about having their kids try to learn in a sweat shop filled with Trump brand Russian asbestos.
Charter schools, funding private and parochial schools with public tax dollars. He’s in for all of it.
So long as it hurts public schools and enriches private businesses without helping students learn at all.
Go ahead! Take scarce funding from public schools and divert it to programs with little to no accountability. Let private school operators fraudulently misrepresent enrollment data. Let them fail to provide safe and academically appropriate learning environments. Let them game the system in any and every way.
That’s what Wagner calls fiscal accountability.
It doesn’t matter that these schools don’t improve student achievement. Evaluations of voucher programs in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C., have all found no statistically significant differences in the academic achievement of voucher students compared to public school students. And recent evaluations of programs in Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana revealed that voucher students scored lower than their peers attending public school.
But who cares about facts? This is all ideology for Wagner.
Vouchers have a record of undermining student’s civil rights – especially students with disabilities. Private school students give up due process and other rights guaranteed in public schools. Private schools are allowed to discriminate by denying admission based on religion, sexual orientation, citizenship status, English language proficiency and disability. Private schools that enroll students with disabilities may decide not to provide the services or accommodations guaranteed to such students in public schools. Or they may charge parents extra for them. Moreover, there is nothing to stop them from segregating these kids from other children. And, finally, private schools often suspend or expel students without due process.
This may be Trump and Wagner’s ideal. But it is certainly not what Commonwealth voters want for their children.
He Wants to Get Rid of Many State Colleges
Wagner caused an uproar when he said the state’s 14 state colleges will not be around in four years. “So, for those of you who think your school’s going to be around four years from now, it isn’t going to be around,” Wagner said.
Fewer institutions of higher learning. Fewer opportunities to get a college degree. That sounds like the policy of a college dropout.
But that’s either too complicated for Wagner or he just doesn’t care.
He supported Gov. Corbett’s plan to decimate Pennsylvania’s schools. And he doesn’t think the culling should be over.
When asked point blank about Corbett’s cuts in 2011, he said, “Yes, I believe that Governor Corbett needs to stick to his plan.”
He’s said repeatedly that we spend “enough money” on public schools, while stressing the need for frugality and fewer regulations.
He Wants to Play with How Schools Are Funded
He’s an advocate for legislation that would eliminate school property taxes and replace them with increased state sales and income taxes.
True we need a better funding mechanism than local property taxes. But you can bet Wagner’s plan is worse than the current system.
It would lock funding inequities among Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts into place.
He Thinks Global Warming is Caused by the Earth Getting Closer to the Sun
Wagner is an incredibly stupid man who thinks he’s rather intelligent.
But of all the dumb or evil things that come spewing out of his mouth, this one has to be my favorite.
When asked about global climate change, he didn’t simply deny that it was happening. He had an alternative theory to why it was taking place.
It’s not business and industry or fossil fuels that is causing global temperatures to rise. He actually said that it’s because the earth is getting closer to the sun every year. Another cause? Human bodies on the planet are giving off enough heat to raise the global temperature.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a person who hates schools and teachers so much knows very little, himself.
These comments made him a national laughing stock.
His words were repeated on every late night comedy show across the country for giggles and guffaws.
The question is “Will the joke be on us come Election Day?”
It’s not “How dumb is Scott Wagner?”
It’s “Is Pennsylvania dumb enough to vote for him?”
NOTE: Special Thank you to Sue Goncarovs for the Wagner cartoon with which I began this piece. I love your work!
“Results from this investigation revealed that in unadjusted models, children with a history of enrollment in private schools performed better on nearly all outcomes assessed in adolescence. However, by simply controlling for the sociodemographic characteristics that selected children and families into these schools, all of the advantages of private school education were eliminated. There was also no evidence to suggest that low-income children or children enrolled in urban schools benefited more from private school enrollment.”
“By and large, the evidence on the impact of school voucher programs casts doubt on any clear conclusion that private schools are superior in producing student performance…
“In sum, we find no evidence for policies that would support widespread enrollment in private schools, as a group, as a solution for achievement gaps associated with income or race. In most discussions of such gaps and educational opportunities, it is assumed that poor children attend poor quality schools and that their families, given resources and flexibility, could choose among the existing supply of private schools to select and then enroll their children in a school that is more effective and a better match for their student’s needs. It is not at all clear that this logic holds in the real world of a limited supply of effective schools (both private and public) and the indication that once one accounts for family background, the existing supply of heterogeneous private schools (from which parents select) does not result in a superior education (even for higher income students).”
Researchers repeatedly noted that this study was not simply a snapshot of student performance. It is unique because of how long and how in depth students were observed.
The study looks at student outcomes at multiple intervals giving it a much longer time frame and much greater detail than other similar investigations. Researchers examined wide ranging family backgrounds and contextual processes to reduce selection bias.
Participants were recruited in 1991 from ten different cities: Little Rock, Arkansas; Irvine, California; Lawrence, Kansas; Boston, Massachusetts; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Charlottesville, Virginia; Seattle, Washington; Hickory and Morganton, North Carolina; and Madison, Wisconsin. They were followed for 15 years and had to complete a month long home visit. In addition, they submitted to both annual interviews and home, school, and neighborhood observations.
The final analytic sample consisted of 1,097 children – 24% of whom were children of color, 15% had single mothers, and 10% had mothers without a high school diploma.
Moreover, student academic achievement wasn’t the only factor examined.
Researchers also assessed students social adjustment, attitudes, motivation, and risky behavior. This is significant because they noted that no other study of private schools to date has examined factors beyond academics. Also, there is a general assumption that private school has a positive effect on these nonacademic factors – an assumption for which the study could find no evidence.
“In short, despite the frequent and pronounced arguments in favor of the use of vouchers or other mechanisms to support enrollment in private schools as a solution for vulnerable children and families attending local or neighborhood schools, the present study found no evidence that private schools, net of family background (particularly income), are more effective for promoting student success.”
One reason behind these results may be the startling variation in “the nature and quality of private school classrooms.” There is no consistency between what you’ll get from one private school to the next.
The x-factor appears to be family income and all that comes with it.
A yellow flag showing a coiled spring of a snake above the motto, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
In my usually well-manicured suburb, you’ll find it waving bravely over the garbage house.
There’s three broken down RVs sitting on the lawn, a busted sofa in the back yard, a rotten picnic bench and several rusted out vehicles in various states of disrepair.
I’m not sure why the owners think anyone would want to tread on them. We’d much rather walk quickly on by without being seen or commented on.
Because in my experience that’s the thing about most of the people who fly this flag.
They’re indignant about anyone stepping on their rights but all too ready to step all over yours.
I remember it wasn’t really too long ago that this flag had no such connotations.
It was simply the Gadsen flag, a relic of the American Revolution. It was nothing more than a reminder of a time when we cherished our national independence from Great Britain and wanted to make sure they knew we didn’t want the King to come back and start ordering us around.
In fact, it was designed by American general and politician Christopher Gadsden in 1775. This “Sam Adams of South Carolina” modeled his patriotic statement first used by the Continental Marines on an earlier famous cartoon from Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette.
You’ve probably seen it. A snake is cut into several pieces – each representing one of the colonies – with the motto, “Join or Die.”
So originally it was a call for unity, perhaps even federalism. It was a way of framing the argument that we’d be stronger as one nation than as a group of separate states.
Gadsen’s version was really a continuation of that same thought. It was as if he were saying, “Here we are, one unified nation ready to strike to protect itself from tyranny.”
It wasn’t until 2009 that Gadsen’s flag became associated with the radical right.
Like so many hitherto nonpartisan symbols, it was appropriated by the Tea Party movement, which tried to cast their libertarian extremism as somehow harkening back to the American Revolution.
Even the name Tea Party is a misnomer. The original Boston members of the Sons of Liberty who threw British tea into the harbor in 1773 were protesting taxation without representation. Modern day Tea Partiers were protesting the taxes levied by their own duly elected representatives.
They were poor people duped into thinking the rich paid too much despite the fact of gross income inequality and the wealthy not paying their fair share.
It’s this willful ignorance that typifies the contemporary right.
The truth doesn’t matter. It only matters what can be spun into a pithy sound bite that can be broadcast on Fox News or some other propaganda source and then repeated ad infinitum in place of any real debate or conversation.
To be fair, the left does it, too, but not nearly to the same degree.
When a topic makes the rounds of the 24-hour news cycle, you can hear the same canned responses from right and left on just about every channel regardless of who is speaking. The only difference is that the left usually makes at least passing reference to reality while the right closes its eyes and says whatever it believes to be true with perfect conviction.
The Gadsen flag is a perfect example of this hypocrisy.
The motto “Don’t Tread on Me” has come to mean radical individual freedom.
I can do whatever I like and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I can own as many guns as I like. I can teach my kids whatever facts I like. I can discriminate against anyone I like.
But there’s never a mention about other people except to limit what they can do in relation to the speaker.
In short, there’s nothing explicit about making this rule universal – I won’t tread on you if you won’t tread on me.
It’s just don’t tread on me and I’ll do whatever I like in relation to you.
After all, many of these personal freedoms the radical right cherishes actually do impact the rest of us.
You oppose abortion but no one is forcing anyone to have abortions. In your headlong crusade for individual freedom you want to ensure that others don’t have this choice because they might choose differently than you. Or at least they might choose differently than you SAY you do, because when the light of day is cast upon you, we find an alarming number of hypocrites here, too.
You look to your self-interest, and I’ll look to mine, and that’s what’s best for everyone.
However, they forgot that everyone doesn’t have the same power – physical, social, financial or political. Some people are strong and some are weak. Some are rich and some are poor. If you pull the shortest straw at the lottery of birth, you won’t be able to get the same things for yourself as those who won it as soon as the doctor slapped their newborn bums.
So we have layers and layers of class and economics. We have social structures designed to keep black people here and Hispanics there and white people at the top. We have a society that worships the rich and bedevils the poor. We have belief systems that praise one kind of sexuality only and demonizes anything that diverges from that norm. And the most defining thing of any newborn baby is what you’ll find between its legs.
“Don’t Tread on Me” has become a farce.
It’s a maxim hoisted on those with very little individual power to convince them to join together and become powerful while guarding the door for the wealthy.
They sit atop their mountains of trash as if they were dragons on piles of gold.
And they point their pitchforks at the rest of us as if we wanted a piece of it.
In this way, they make themselves the willing patsies of the ruling class.
It’s a sad thing to behold.
Because if we all just stopped for a second and recognized our common humanity, we’d agree that the status quo is unacceptable.
If we were more concerned about the rights of all than just our own rights, we’d agree that the wealth of this great nation has not been fairly distributed.
The snake is coiled and ready to strike but it is pointed in the wrong direction.
It shouldn’t be pointed at 99% of us. And it shouldn’t be so solitary.
It should be a sea of snakes, a great slithering mass of humanity, hissing and spitting with venom, our reptilian eyes focused on the elites.
When Evangelical Christians pretend the moral high ground by backing a President who pays off porn stars and belittles war heroes and the disabled, you can see why they need to demand government assistance to keep their pews filled.
Will not on my dime, Buster.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
It’s the establishment clause from the First Amendment. And if you need to wipe your ass with something, it certainly won’t be the U.S. Constitution!
Separation of church and state. Keep them separate.
A 2017 report from the Economic Policy Institute concluded that extensive research on vouchers over the past quarter century demonstrates that gains in student achievement – if present at all – are at best small. Students show no significant improvement in reading or math. In addition, the report showed that the risks outweigh any insignificant gains in test scores.
Another report from June 2017 by the US Dept of ED found that students using a voucher had statistically significant lower performance in math compared to students who did not receive a voucher.
Poverty has a significant impact in student achievement. The average acute poverty rate (% of children living in families with income less than 100% of federal poverty limits) in school districts with more than one low-achieving school was 33.3% – more than double the state average of 16.3%.
Higher poverty means lower standardized test scores.
On average, the proficiency rate for students in the highest poverty schools is 33% less than students in the wealthiest districts. Struggling schools need MORE resources – not less.
Yet, the highest poverty school districts receive more than $2,000 less per student than their wealthy counterparts. This means they are unable to make the investments necessary to overcome the barriers posed by being poor in America.
It’s called the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program (OSTCP) – a ridiculous bit of legislation that allows children in struggling public schools to use public tax dollars to pay for tuition at a private or parochial school.
I’d say they could use that money at a participating public school, too, but in Pennsylvania the public schools taking part in the program can be counted on one hand with fingers to spare.
And why does my school now qualify for this dubious distinction? Because of our standardized test scores.
Not our test scores from this year. They won’t be released until at least June – more likely August or September.
This is based on test scores from last year – 2016-17.
Moreover, it’s not district wide. It’s just the middle school and one elementary school.
In previous years, the middle school was the district powerhouse. We had the highest test scores and the most innovation. So what happened?
About 60% of our students are poor and/or minorities. Yet if you go a few miles north, south, east or west, you’ll find schools serving every flavor of white privilege. Beautiful big buildings with the best of everything and a tax base to pay for it. My district, on the other hand, is made to do the best it can with what we’ve got, which isn’t much.
Though we only have one middle school and one high school where all our students rub shoulders, we have two elementary schools – one for the middle class white kids and one for the poorer black ones.
This has dramatic academic consequences. Kids at the better-resourced white school flourish scholastically more than kids from the crumbling black school. So the racial and economic skills gap becomes entrenched by the time kids move to the middle school in 6th grade.
If only we could integrate the elementaries.
However, we can’t bus kids from one neighborhood to the other because we can’t afford it. We have a walking district. Moreover, parents would revolt at the idea of elementary kids having to trudge long distances or take a city bus to school.
The only long-term solution is to create a new, centrally located elementary center serving both populations. However, that takes money we don’t have.
So last year we tried a partial solution – move the 5th grade up to the middle school. That way, we can at least integrate our students a year earlier.
Of course, this means taking kids from the black school with terrible test scores up to the middle school. This means adding more struggling students from the school that already is on the state’s bottom 15% list and making them the middle school’s responsibility. It means a new program, new trials and challenges.
You’d think we’d get praise or at least understanding for tackling such a problem. But no.
Taking on the 5th grade tipped the middle school’s test scores over the edge.
Now we’re in the bottom 15%, too. Now we have to let our students go to a private or parochial school with public tax dollars.
Why? Because we tried to right a wrong. We tried to correct a social and academic injustice. And the result was a kick in the gut.
Thanks, Harrisburg legislators! Way to support students of color!
Why would anyone integrate if doing so could mean losing funding and looking like a failure in the press?
Moreover, forget all the junk you hear from the state about growth.
This penalty is based on whether we hit testing benchmarks – what percentage of students we have earning proficient or advanced on the tests. It doesn’t matter how much they’ve improved. It doesn’t matter if they’ve gone from the lowest of the low to scratching at the ceiling of proficient.
My 8th graders last year (the year we’re being penalized for) experienced tremendous growth just like my students this year are doing. From where they came in to where they’re leaving, the difference is phenomenal!
But apparently that doesn’t count in Pennsylvania.
What a great way to improve test scores for our students – comparing apples-to-pears or, to be honest, actually making no comparison at all.
This OSTCP law is based on an unjustified assumption that private schools are always better than public ones. The reality is that if the resources both schools receive are similar, the public school usually greatly outperforms the private or parochial one.
I’ve seen this first hand. I’ve toured our next door Catholic institution. A few years ago, we relocated our students there temporarily during an emergency drill.
It’s a quaint school. Cobblestones and a shaded green campus.
But the buildings are crumbling – especially on the inside. Watermarks on the walls and dirt collecting in the corners.
It’s also much smaller than my school. They only have less than 300 students from K-8. We have about 1,500 from K-12.
I can see why parents who graduated from that school and have a history with it might want to send their kids there to continue that legacy. But anyone else would be giving up much better facilities, a much wider curriculum, much better trained and experienced teachers and even smaller classes!
The OSTCP bill has nothing to do with providing better opportunities for children and families.
The private/religious schools benefit and so do the businesses who “donate” their taxes to these programs.
In 17 states you can get substantial tax credits for contributing to this scam.
Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia, for example, all provide tax credits worth between $65 and $95 on every $100 donated. Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Montana, and South Carolina go even further by reimbursing 100% of the donation. You read that right. Donate $100, get $100 back.
Oh, but it gets much worse. Since these are considered donations, you can also claim them as charitable deductions and get an additional 35% off your taxes. So you donate $100 and get back $135! Yes. You actually make money off this deal!
In Pennsylvania, investors can even “triple dip” receiving a state tax credit, a reduction in their state taxable income, and a reduction in their federal taxable income. And, yes, that means they sometimes get back more in tax breaks than they provide in contributions.
Meanwhile all of these “savings” come from money stolen from local public schools like mine. Businesses and individual investors are profiting off the industrial testing complex.
In the Keystone state, we have the OSTCP and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).
This blatant swindle is championed on both sides of the political aisle.
We already waste $200 million in business taxes to these programs in the Commonwealth, yet both Democrats and Republicans keep trying to pass another bill to increase that sum by another $50 million.