The Constitutionality of School Choice

Despite Pennsylvania taxpayers spending $26 billion annually on public schools and more per student than 39 other states ($13,000 per child); and despite a decreasing student enrollment of nearly 27,000 student while adding nearly 33,000 employees since 2000, Pennsylvania public schools failed to deliver anything other than stagnating returns on that investment.  There is hope though, as parents and lawmakers are realizing the true potential of school choice in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1, The Opportunity Scholarship Act sponsored by Sen. Jeff Piccola (R) and Sen. Tony Williams (D), would expand scholarships available to children in lower- and middle-income families through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program and provide low-income students in failing public schools with a state-funded voucher.

The educational establishment is doing everything they can to ensure they don’t lose their monopoly status. Claims continue to arisen that SB 1 vouchers are unconstitutional.  Below is the testimony of Richard Comer, senior attorney for the Institute of Justice, and Phil Murren of the law firm Ball, Murren and Connell, discussing the constitutionality of school choice in Pennsylvania. 

Constitutionality of School Choice (IJ and Murren)

This is not the first time that school choice opponents have challenged the constitutionality of various programs.  Gov. Ridge’s proposed Educational Opportunity Grants also received attacks of unconstitionality.  A scholarly constitutional analysis  by Susan Fiorentino, Esq., and Dr. Colleen Sheehan concluded that,

The Educational Opportunity Grants to children clearly comports with the public benefit test set forth by both the framers of the Pennsylvania Constitution and subsequent rulings by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.