Corbett, Philly archbishop laud program funding scholarships for the poor

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett rallied with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput Thursday at a Catholic high school in Drexel Hill.  The officials were promoting the state’s “Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit” program, which gives write-offs to businesses that donate to scholarship funds.

Corbett said he hopes the tax credits help students get a good education in Pennsylvania.  He said fostering competition between schools can help — but getting the government to pour more money into education is not the solution to struggling schools.

“Since 1997 — since that year — Pennsylvania has doubled its spending on education,” Corbett said. “Do we produce students twice as accomplished?  Have the schools doubled in quality? 

“I don’t think so!  And we have to take that into account,” he said.

The program targets scholarships for kids in low-achieving public schools, often to attend private or religious schools.  Chaput said it should help more families afford to send their kids to parochial school.

Pennsylvania School Boards Association spokesman Steve Robinson said the group is concerned.

“The new law shifts limited state funds away from public school districts by siphoning valuable dollars from the general fund via tax credits,” he said. “And this money could otherwise be used to support public education or other programs as well.”

Corbett said he knows some believe there is a war on public education, but he disputed that and said he’s putting students first.

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