Groups argue merits of proposed pre-K state funding hike

From (subscription):

Two private school groups told the state Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday not to support $75 million in new state funding for pre-kindergarten classes.

State support of more tax cuts for businesses that provide scholarships to private school for children is a better option, submitted Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation, and others.

Look for Matt’s full testimony on our website tomorrow. Reading on:

Andrew T. LeFevre of the REACH Alliance praised the state’s Education Improvement Tax Credit program, which allows businesses $59 million in tax credits for providing scholarships to students to attend private schools.

Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, pressed LeFevre and others to document that students who moved from public to private schools then improved in the private schools.

LeFevre said the REACH program, created in 2001, was too new to have such data, although some schools were close to releasing some.

Other private school advocates said they did not collect such data and said there was a value to state funds preserving educational choice.

Browne disagreed, saying the only reason to use state funds to fund private school scholarships was that data proved such scholarships increased student academic success.

Michael Geer of the Pennsylvania Family Institute disagreed with Browne, saying school safety and allaying parental fears of school violence was another plus in state-funded school choice.

LeFevre also said: “Each time a child moves from a public to a non-public school and each time a child is able to stay in a non-public school as a result of the EITC, both taxpayers and families win.”

I will post a response to Sen. Browne’s inquiry shortly.