joe lieberman school choice

Former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman Calls on Gov. Shapiro to Defend ‘Gutsy’ School Reforms

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 13, 2023 — Former Democratic vice-presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman called on Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro to support Lifeline Scholarships and school choice as he navigates his first budget negotiation.

Appearing on the Commonwealth Foundation’s School Choice Report podcast with Foundation Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi, Lieberman explained how he became an advocate for school choice, and how he is heartened that charter school and scholarship programs are drawing bipartisan support in Pennsylvania. 

“I didn’t start as an advocate for school choice,” Lieberman said. “I noticed over time that just by objective evidence—test scores—that a lot of the kids, particularly lower-income kids … in the cities were not getting the education that America not only promised them by our founding values, but needed them to have and, and therefore their lives were greatly limited, often dysfunctional.”

He urged Gov. Josh Shapiro to embrace reform, particularly Pennsylvania’s Lifeline Scholarship Program, which provides funds to students in underperforming institutions to attend a different school of their parents’ choosing.

“In state after state across our country, and increasingly with the support of Democrats, not just Republicans, the states have adopted school choice programs of one kind or another because they see that that’s what the parents want,” Lieberman told the School Choice Report podcast.

He continued: “It takes a little guts because usually the public school lobby, the teachers unions particularly, lobby against it, but I think it’s real progress.” Lieberman said Shapiro can overcome “opposition tactics” by remembering that “the public wants [reform].”

“If he can pass this [Lifeline Scholarship Program],” Lieberman proclaimed, “it will have reverberations positively all around the country.” 

He concluded, “I say with an absolute confidence that … a significant number of children who are poor in Pennsylvania will live lives that are so much better and fulfilling than they otherwise would [be] because … they had the opportunity to get a Lifeline Scholarship.”

The School Choice Report is a new podcast from the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s premier free-market think tank.

Listen to the full interview here.


The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.