Andrew Dinniman, the Democratic state senator from Chester County, apparently surprised some local school boards when he voted last week to move S.B. 1, the school voucher bill being pushed by Republicans, to the Senate floor.
Dinniman, who is the minority chair of the Republican-led Education Committee, told the West Chester Daily Local News that he cast the vote in return from a promise from bill sponsor Jeff Piccola that five Dinniman amendments to the bill would get a fair hearing on the Senate floor. Piccola is a Republican senator from Dauphin County. Anthony Williams, the Democrat from West Philly, is another voucher fan and co-sponsor of the bill.
Dinniman said his eventual vote on the final bill will depend on the fate of his amendments.
Dinniman’s proposals include ideas such as forcing schools that accept voucher students to undergo audits and to administer standardized tests. And he’s worried about the cost of the program, which originally would aim vouchers at disadvantaged students of underperforming schools, as it expands in later years.
This action by the local senator touched off a rousing debate about the voucher idea on the Web site of the hometown paper, the West Chester Daily Local News. Check the comments out here. It’s quite a variety of views, but with viewpoints Philadelphians don’t often hear when the discussion of school choice stays within city boundaries.