Behind the Ballot: Parental Choice | Pennsylvania News
The issue of “parental choice” has played a major role in gubernatorial races across the country, and it’s also on the minds of many voters in Pennsylvania.
To talk about the concept of parental choice, we need to be clear about what we mean. It all boils down to the fact that some parents want a different education for their child than they currently receive in public school.
This often leads these parents to look for ways to pull their children out of public school altogether. In the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, both candidates now say they support the state in using public money, at least in some cases, to help students seeking a private education.
Mother Mary Ellen Branner worried about her son’s fifth grade schedule in 2019.
“The stories they read are all, in my opinion, promoting anti-mainstream Christian values,” Branner said. “Be who you want to be, marry who you want to marry. When did a school become the place to do that?”
Branner was a substitute teacher at her son’s school and began to investigate textbooks further.
“The more I looked at the program, the more alarming it became, because it ended in high school looking like social justice all the way through,” Branner said.
She decided to take her son out of public school and put him in a private school, with help from the nonprofit CEO Americawhich offers grants to parents like Branner.
“Until about seven or eight years ago, we never had applications like this with issues of curriculum, indoctrination,” said US CEO Chairman Jim Saunders, “but c is quite common these days.”
Saunders said his organization gives about 150 grants a year for an average of $3,500 to give to parents who can’t otherwise afford to put their children in private school.
Now, that’s something Democrat Josh Shapiro says the state should do, too. His campaign website shows that it supports the funding of “vital scholarships”. These would go to students in the bottom 15% of school districts and could be used to help pay private school tuition.
However, his opponent, Republican Doug Mastriano, said Pennsylvania should go further, cutting per-student funding in Pennsylvania public schools to give to parents.
“I think instead of $19,000, we fund each student about $9,000 or $10,000, and they can decide which school to go to: public school, private school, religious school, cyber school, or home school,” said Mastriano said in a radio interview in March. of this year.
But many disagree with the use of public money to help students attend private schools, such as Joseph Roy, superintendent of the Bethlehem area school district.
“It’s not about education. It’s about politics,” Roy said. “It’s about directing public money – there’s a lot of money in education – into private interests so that people can benefit from it.”
Roy believes that public schools generally perform better than private or charter schools, and are more inclusive and beneficial to the community.
“Where else does everyone gather? From all walks of life, family incomes, races, religions. Where else does this happen? Nowhere,” Roy said.
He’d like the money to stay in the public school system, but Branner feels differently, and she said she’s not alone.
“My group of friends in the community would 100% support, to some extent, a candidate who allows us to choose where our children want to go to school,” Branner said.
A bill sponsored by Republican Representative Clint Owlett (68th District), which would make such “lifesaving scholarships” a reality in Pennsylvania, passed the House and currently sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee.