School voucher proponents push for House passage
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Armed with bundles of white roses -- assembled to represent what they say are incidents of violence in the state's 143 lowest-performing schools every 17 minutes -- lawmakers and supporters urged that a measure to allow those students to attend alternative institutions be passed before the end of the year.
That was the latest argument from school-choice advocates Tuesday at a news conference organized by Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative Harrisburg think-tank.
A bill to provide vouchers for private schools and to expand tax credits for businesses that contribute to scholarship programs was approved by the Senate in October.
The House of Representatives has yet to consider the legislation, with discussions amongst the majority Republican caucus continuing this week.
Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, who has put forward a voucher proposal, said he's "still very optimistic" that the House of Representatives could vote on the issue during the half-dozen remaining session days.
He and Rep. Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery, said their caucus has been considering potential tweaks, such as altering which schools' students would be eligible or re-evaluating the program after five years.
Auditor General Jack Wagner, in a separate event, said any school reform bills also must address inconsistencies in how charter schools are funded. Currently, school districts compensate a charter school based on what the district spends to educate a child, not based on the actual cost of education at the charter institution.
Following the news conference, a group of Philadelphia students delivered packets of white roses to each lawmaker's office.
First Published December 7, 2011 12:00 am