[Photo Credit: By Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, PA - Gov. Wolf at Rally to End Gun Violence Urges Electeds: 'Do Your Job. Protect Our Kids', CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=119492812]
Following vehement resistance from teachers unions and other Democrats, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro reportedly abandoned his earlier requests for a $100 million school vouchers program from the state budget.
The Republican-controlled state Senate approved the voucher scheme, but the Democratic-controlled state House put a stop to it.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, fiercely opposed the voucher program even though the budget included many Democratic priorities like increased spending on education and state funding for legal defense (Pennsylvania is currently the only state that does not fund public defenders; that responsibility rests with its counties).
That resistance was sufficient to keep the state budget from passing by the deadline of June 30, forcing Shapiro to renege.
Second only to crime, school choice was a significant topic in the 2022 Keystone State governor’s election. In 2021, 78% of eighth-graders failed to demonstrate proficiency in arithmetic, and 47% failed to demonstrate proficiency in language arts, according to the state’s own examinations.
The Lifeline Scholarship, Shapiro’s favored concept, would have provided children from underperforming public schools with $7,000 in education vouchers to use at any school of their family’s choosing, including private institutions.