Op-Ed on SB2 Submitted to the Morning Call

We had two of our BASD Proud Parents write an Opinion and send it to the morning call.  Julie and Karen did an incredible job and we share their sentiment.  Please see below for their words, there is a lot of specific budget information that they present that helps to really show how harmful SB2 would be to our public schools;

“Unfortunately, the state Senate’s Education Committee is giving serious consideration to Senate Bill 2 (SB2).  Being proud parents of children in the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD), we feel is a terrible decision as the bill’s “educational savings accounts” – vouchers by another name – stand to drain essential resources from school districts across the state by transferring of public school money to private schools. If SB2 passes, it will undermine our children’s educational opportunities and compromise the notable successes BASD has achieved in a number of devastating ways. Estimates show that, even if just one-third of eligible students request and receive vouchers, the BASD will lose a budget-busting $14.7 million.  To put that number in context, it’s equal to roughly 3.5 times what the district plans to spend on its highly successful Reading By Grade 3 initiative and over 30 times what the district plans to spend updating the middle school program of studies.  In fact, the current budget line for “academic initiatives” is $2.8 million – well below the funds that SB2 would deplete from the district and redirect to private schools.  To be clear, the passage of SB2 would dramatically shift the district’s financial picture – plunging BASD nearly $15 million in the red.  Addressing this gap, a shortfall entirely created by this bill, would require raising revenue from local taxpayers.

Our public schools are the life blood of our communities. They cultivate our future community leaders, small business owners, and service providers. They provide us with cultural enrichment through the wonderful arts programs and sports teams. When we support and protect our public schools, we invest in our communities and our future. SB2 is the wrong way to go for all of our children!”

The Senate Education Committee has just announced its intention to vote on Senate Bill 2 (Sen. DiSanto, R-Dauphin) this coming Tuesday, April 24. This bill establishes Education Savings Accounts (ESA) vouchers, a program that takes tax money out of your neighborhood public schools to be used for private schools and vendors. Your calls and emails are needed immediately to stop this scheme from being moved on a fast track! Please take a moment to contact your senators, even if they are not on the Education Committee.

BASD Proud Parents is a group of pro-public education parents who’ve come together to educate and empower ourselves so that we can effectively participate in policy discussions that shape our schools.  We follow legislation that is currently being debated in Harrisburg; we meet with our legislators to build relationships and ensure that parents’ voices are effectively heard in policy discussions; we help shine a light on the innumerable ways our schools are working for our children and our communities.