A recent letter to the editor in the Chambersburg Public Opinion (“Senate Bill 2 would siphon more money from public schools,” Jan. 9) called on me to oppose legislation that would expand education opportunities for students who are trapped in failing schools. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
The opinion piece asserts that Senate Bill 2 would siphon money away from public schools — a claim that is misleading at best. Public schools have received more money from the state each year for as long as I’ve been a member of the General Assembly. Under Senate Bill 2, no school would lose a single penny of state funding unless parents choose to remove their child from a school that is failing them.
If a parent chooses to remove his or her child from a failing school, the district would only forfeit the average per-student allotment the state dedicated for that one individual student. In essence, the plan would ensure that all state money allocated for public education follows the student instead of being tied to a school district that is not getting the job done.
It only stands to reason that if a parent pulls a child out of a failing school, the child’s former school shouldn’t get additional money from state taxpayers. Schools should receive funding based on the number of students they enroll and educate, not based on the number of students they wished they enrolled, or the number of students they failed to educate.
Senate Bill 2 would ensure that both public schools and private schools have an incentive to actually improve student performance and make the best use of taxpayer dollars, which is something that all lawmakers and non-partisan education advocates should be striving to achieve.
The bottom line is this — if low-performing schools consistently fail to provide a quality education to students, then parents should be given greater power to dictate how their tax dollars could be put to better use in educating their children.
The alternative is sinking an ever-increasing amount of taxpayer dollars into a system that doesn’t work, with little or no accountability for how those dollars are spent. That might be an attractive option to some of the most liberal school board members in Pennsylvania, but it certainly isn’t an approach the vast majority of taxpayers would support. I receive hundreds of emails, calls and letters to my district office every week, and I can assure you that community residents are not begging to pay higher state taxes in addition to higher property taxes.
As a new member of the Senate Education Committee, I will strive to support policies that ensure students can receive a quality education, no matter where that education takes place. I also believe we should work toward that goal with an eye toward protecting taxpayers and empowering parents. Senate Bill 2 accomplishes all of these benchmarks and will have my support if it is considered by the committee.
Sen. Rich Alloway II (R-33) represents Pennsylvania’s 33rd District, which includes parts of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.