Across Pennsylvania, newspapers are telling the celebratory story of parents and students formerly stuck in failing and violent public schools who are taking immediate advantage of new opportunity scholarships that allow them to leave.
In today’s Patriot News, it was no surprise to read the program was being hailed as a “godsend” to a single mother of three who hadn’t been able to get her kids out of the Harrisburg School District until it made the “list” for educational lifelines.
No surprise, that is, unless you were HSD Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney who said, “I’m still trying to find out the information myself, or what the root causes are or what the rationale for the listing is totally.”
What’s really surprising here is this superintendant missed the shocking data and stories about her district that found its high school placed as one of the 5-worst schools in academic performance in the state. But no worries, we will be pleased to educate her and the rest of the public as to why parents are lining up to flee the district.
According to state data, only 10 percent of 11th grade students at Harrisburg High School managed proficiency in math and 19 percent in reading, all while taxpayers forked over more than $18,000 per student per year for the failure.
And don’t forget: The same government union bosses who have tried to strangle school choice for years said these numbers and the kids behind them didn’t matter. Now, just a few weeks after policymakers expanded school choice, the extra $25 million in credits they authorized for the traditional Educational Improvement Tax Credit program is already gone, devoured by businesses offering a lifeline to families starving for opportunities to educate their children in a safe environment. No wonder the new opportunity scholarship program described in the Patriot was sorely needed.
And aren’t these the same students for whom anti-choice advocates loudly proclaimed “those” kids just can’t learn? Well, meet “those” parents who found choice through EITC programs, who beg to differ and cannot wait to have their neighbors join them at schools of choice.
Meanwhile, the exodus continues with still many families left behind and that remains no surprise to those who have suffered years of failure and violence supported by the status quo.