School choice legislation debated in Philly

    School choice is not a question of public vs. private facilities, but a matter of opportunity, the leader of Students First PA told members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee during a hearing on school choice and voucher legislation.

    Opponents contend that state spending should focus on improving the existing public schools rather than take funds away from the failing schools where the voucher recipients would potentially leave.

    Committee members were gathering testimony Tuesday in Philadelphia to be better informed about the issue once the new legislative session begins in Harrisburg.

    The debate brought together representatives from each side for more than two hours of discussion. Audience members also were able to speak once the panel debate had concluded.

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    Dawn Chavous, the executive director of Students First PA, argued on behalf of the school choice legislation.

    “For me, it’s not about one system versus the other, it’s not about public versus charter or private schools, it’s about empowering parents and giving parents as many opportunities and options as possible to provide a quality education for their child,” she said.

    The opposition led by PSEA President Jim Testerman argued that legislation for vouchers should not move forward and that the existing underperforming public schools should targeted for government help.

    State Sen. Lisa Boscola presided over the debate.

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