With no action expected on Senate Bill 1 this summer, some state House members are introducing their own school voucher legislation. Representative Curt Schroder (R-Chester) has introduced two measures as alternatives to the Senate bill.
HB 1679, the “Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act”, will offer $5,000 opportunity scholarships to all students. Representative Schroder calls it true school choice. It would include a public-to-public school option and would also expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, offering that credit to home school families.
HB 1678, called the “Failing Schools Student Rescue Act”, would offer a $5,000 voucher to all students who attend or live within the attendance boundary of a persistently low achieving school. Representative Schroder says where Senate Bill 1 established income limits for voucher eligibility in its failing schools option; all students would be eligible under his bill.
Representative Schroder says if a school is failing to educate students, all students are endangered regardless of family income and must be given the opportunity to get out of the “failure factories that some of our schools have become.”
Don Adams of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association has concerns about Senate Bill 1. He says the concepts behind it are so complicated, that the bill is difficult to promote. Sharon Cherubin of UNITEPA and the Grassroots Coalition for Real School Choice also favors Representative Schroder’s bills, saying the legislation would empower all parents.
Representative Schroder says they’d anticipate passing only one of those bills. He says they were offered as alternatives to Senate Bill 1.
Meanwhile, another house Republican, Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), has introduced a bill that would limit vouchers to low income families in under-performing districts while expanding the EITC for middle income families.
HB 1708 is called the “Students and Schools Rescue Act”. The bill also has some bipartisan support. Representative Tony Payton Jr. (D-Phila) is a cosponsor. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R- Allegheny) has also signed on to the bill, which would incorporate the language expanding the EITC program as passed earlier in HB 1330.