Parent Involvement in Supporting Public Education

It's time for parents' voices to be heard on taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers!

We are sending you this Informational Alert because you are involved with the parent organization in your child’s school, and you have been identified as a key parent contact by your district’s administration office. As a parent leader in your neighborhood school, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association would like to begin providing you with updates on certain legislation being proposed in Harrisburg that could affect your local schools in a big way. We believe you need to be aware of the truth about how various legislative proposals will impact the quality of public education in Pennsylvania and then urge you to share what you learn with other parents in your schools, with the community and most importantly, with your local legislators. Our hope is that you will be willing to become leading public education advocates along with the other stakeholders in your community. Your willingness to get involved and allow your voice to be heard in Harrisburg can decide the future of your community’s schools and your children.

Who is The Pennsylvania School Boards Association?

Since 1895, PSBA has represented school board members across the state in 500 school districts. We are also a valuable resource for intermediate units, career and technical schools, school solicitors, superintendents and other school administrators, legislators and governmental agencies. PSBA’s mission is to promote excellence in school board governance through leadership, service and advocacy for public education. We have a long history of promoting parental engagement in education. We partner with statewide parent groups and participate in various statewide parent initiatives. We believe that public school parents are our strongest advocates and recently, our focus has turned to engaging parents in grassroots advocacy. 

How can PSBA help public school parents?

We will work to keep you informed on the issues we believe to be of most interest to parents. You will receive informational alerts, like this one, or you will receive action alerts. In action alerts we provide a summary of the legislation, the status, talking points, sample letters and tell you how to get in touch with your local legislators. Action alerts usually need to be acted upon quickly. We also encourage you to share what you have learned with others so they can take action, for a proactive, sustained communication effort. Our goal is to provide public school parents with the information and tools needed to make a difference in the future of public schools. It’s time the voices of public school parents are heard in Harrisburg. The legislation we believe to be of most interest to you today is legislation that would enact taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers in the state of Pennsylvania. This legislation, if enacted by lawmakers, will deplete public schools of its local taxpayer dollars to fund the private education of students and would change the future of public education in Pennsylvania forever.

The Issue: Taxpayer-Funded Tuition Vouchers

While the majority of Pennsylvanians have shown that they are opposed to the use of local taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers to send a child to nonpublic and private schools, voucher proponents continue to place pressure on the legislature to enact legislation as early as this fall. We believe that vouchers are unaffordable, unaccountable, unproven, unconstitutional and unpopular for taxpayers.  To find out much more about vouchers, click here.  

The latest public opinion poll results

Pennsylvanians continue to oppose vouchers and express satisfaction with their local public schools. Last week, the results of the latest public opinion poll on vouchers were released, and for the third time in a year, the public has overwhelmingly said “no” to spending tax dollars to send children to private or parochial schools. The results show that 65% of Pennsylvanians opposed using taxpayer monies to support private school tuition. In addition, the poll found that the closer and more involved Pennsylvanians are with their community schools, the more satisfied they are with their school. In fact, over 2/3 of Pennsylvanians (67%) are satisfied with the quality of their community schools. In addition, regardless of age, Pennsylvanians are satisfied with their schools overwhelmingly. The survey showed that both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly are satisfied with their local schools, 73% and 69%, respectively and when asked what grade they would give the public schools in Pennsylvania for improving student academic achievement, 47% of Pennsylvanians gave public schools an A or B. Less than 7% gave schools a failing grade.The complete survey results are posted on PSBA’s website.  The postings include a news release, voucher poll results, community school poll results, and charts detailing complete poll results.PSBA’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel said, “Overall, Pennsylvanians are pleased with the performance of their local school districts. This satisfaction is another reason Pennsylvania should not be pulling millions of tax dollars out of public education and diverting it to religious or parochial institutions or into the hands of private entrepreneurs who see education as a money making opportunity.”

Why do we need you?

Public education is at a vulnerable time and we believe you are the very best public education advocates. You are involved in our neighborhood schools because you know how important a good education is to your child and to the viability and well-being of your community. We are asking you to help us share the good news about your neighborhood schools and show the community and legislators first-hand the good work that students, staff and parents are accomplishing, so they can begin to realize the rhetoric is wrong. During a hearing on school vouchers in Philadelphia this summer, a testifier from an organization supporting taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers, said parents “want to be liberated from the [public school] bureaucracy that has held them hostage.  They want freedom!”  We need you to help us prove that she is not speaking on behalf of all public school parents! 
 
Please feel free to contact Karen Devine, director of member relations, at karen.devine@psba.org if you would like to learn more. Also, visit the “Parents and Public” section of PSBA’s Web site.
 
October is Parent Involvement Month in Pennsylvania! Click here for more details.
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