PSEA Up to Their Old Tricks

I’ve dealt with teachers’ unions for a lot of years in a lot of states in my on-going efforts to bring greater educational options to students and parents, and one thing has become abundantly clear to me during that time—their anti school choice arguments are old, tired and just plain wrong.

In 1990, when the Milwaukee voucher program was being debated, teachers’ unions first started their doom and gloom drum beat of how choice would kill “public” schools by sucking money out of the system or taking the smartest kids out of already poor performing schools. Or that public money shouldn’t be used to help rich parents who are already sending their kids to private schools.

Well 20 years, and 24 successfully running, publicly-funded school choice programs later, and I am still amazed that the Pennsylvania State Education Association thinks these arguments hold water.

The below letter to the editor that was published by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review points out the misinformation once again being put forward by the PSEA about school choice vouchers.

PSEA misleads

Thursday, November 25, 2010

After reading the news story “School choice bill promised for next state Legislature” (Nov. 16 and, I felt compelled to correct misinformation in it from Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Wythe Keever.

Mr. Keever was quoted as saying: “Tax-funded tuition vouchers do not save the public schools money. … Voucher programs typically come at the expense of public schools, in the form of reduced state appropriations for K-12 public education.”

Wrong. According to Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, that state’s funding for school districts increased nearly $86 million in 2007-08 because of the Milwaukee voucher program. Since the Cleveland voucher program began in 1996, Ohio’s average state funding per student rose 94 percent.

The story also indicated Keever said the primary beneficiaries are students who never attended public schools.

Current voucher programs limit eligibility to low-income families, most of whom leave district schools. In 2009, the income for a family of four was limited to $38,587 in Milwaukee for eligibility, to $40,792 in Washington, D.C., and to $44,100 in Cleveland.

I am not sure if Keever is uninformed or, as I suspect, following the teachers-union playbook of repeating wrong “facts” over and over again and hoping that someone will start to believe them.

School choice programs have been running successfully and saving states money all across the nation for 20 years.

Andrew T. LeFevre


The writer is a senior fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation (