Are Pennsylvania Leaders Out of Touch?

When asked whether Philadelphia needs “more, fewer, or the same number of charter schools,” Mayor Jim Kenney responded, “Fewer.”

It’s a baffling answer, considering his city’s educational landscape.

Just how out of touch is Mayor Kenney?

Philly students face enormous achievement gaps and persistently dangerous schools, contributing to the exodus of roughly one-third of PSD students to charter schools. Yet, thousands more students are denied access to the Philly public charter school of their choice.

To top it off, twice as many Philly voters support charters as oppose them.

Some Harrisburg policy-makers similarly reject educational freedom for our students.

Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarship programs, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC), have empowered hundreds of thousands of low- to middle-income students with a private education that meets their needs. The programs connect businesses with their communities, schools, and families.

But each year, government-imposed program limitations deny a quality education to thousands of students, and businesses lose the opportunity to support students.

Clearly, the programs should expand to meet demand—and 71 percent of Pa. likely voters agree.

Thankfully, certain state leaders understand the value of educational opportunity. 

For years, Speaker Turzai has advocated for these programs. His bill, House Bill 800, would increase the cap on EITC scholarships by $100 million next year, and further raise the cap by 10 percent when 90 percent of tax credits are used. These increases could empower up to an additional 90,000 students with scholarships within the next five years.

Majority Leader Cutler moved the bill with bipartisan support through the House.

The bill now awaits consideration in the Senate, where champions like Senator Regan, who has introduced his own bill to expand choice (SB 299), await to continue the fight to provide more students with educational opportunity.

It’s time for all of our leaders to recognize what the citizens already know: education choice is the only way all Pennsylvania students will achieve the opportunity, independence, and prosperity they deserve.