PSBA Chooses Scores Over Kids

Yesterday, Priya posted on how a Philadelphia area family faces criminal charges for trying to put their child in a better school, while demand for Pennsylvania’s new Opportunity Scholarship program is higher than the supply.

ABC 27 has a related story on Natasha Richardson, who wants to find another public school for her two children, but can’t. While most private schools across the state are accepting opportunity scholarships, very few public schools are:

No public schools in the midstate and only four in the entire commonwealth are participating in the program. They are saying no to the money. They are saying no to the kids. …

Every Catholic school and most non-public schools are participating.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)—which used taxpayer money to lobby against school choice—claims school districts didn’t have time to analyze the program, and were worried that they won’t be fully reimbursed (a canard, since school districts can charge out-of-district families tuition higher than the scholarships). The real reason public schools are opting out is that they don’t want to take on low-income kids from failing schools:

“Do we want now to have an influx of students from other school districts that we haven’t been working with for years who might make the statistics not look so good?,” [PSBA spokesman Stuart] Knade said.

Assigning kids to a school based on their ZIP code—and in many cases limiting their opportunity for success— is the bane of our public school system. For moms like Natasha, who feel condemned to poor schools, it is heartbreaking.