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Description: Doug Mastriano’s Plan for School Choices in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano hinted during his campaign that his proposal would be a transformative overhaul of the state’s $30 billion-plus K-12 education system. education.

Mastriano’s sometimes contradictory statements collectively point to an effort to work with the likely Republican-controlled Congress to push for far-reaching school-choice programs by shifting state funding to students rather than schools. There is

This allows public funds to be used for private, homeschooling, or religious education of students. Another of his key proposals is the elimination of the school property tax, the biggest contributor to school district budgets, which Mastriano said would reduce the tax burden while saving the state’s education costs. Mastriano’s camp did not respond to requests for an interview.

The meager details of the plan have been denounced by the state’s largest teachers’ union and more than 80 school board directors statewide. The resulting law may also be subject to legal challenges.

Mastriano’s opponent, Democratic nominee Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has shown willingness to accept the school choice program, but has also advocated securing more public education funding.

What does Mastriano talk about and how does it work?

Mastriano criticized unions and “special interest groups” for “giving orders” in public schools, and suggested choosing schools as the answer.

“Are you getting your dollar’s worth?” he asked at a debate in March, aiming at cost versus results. “It’s time to put the power back into your hands.”

In Pennsylvania’s current system, the state distributes billions of dollars to 500 public school districts. This helps pay salaries, building operations, transportation, and more.

Mastriano’s plan could see state subsidies paid to students instead, eliminating property taxes normally paid to schools. According to state data, property taxes are a major source of income for schools, contributing about $15 billion in the 2020-21 school year.

Mastriano has not offered a plan to make up for the lost revenue.

There is also confusion about how much the children will be paid under Mastriano’s plan. He professes to go from the current state average of over $19,000 to his $9,000 to $15,000 per student.

The Pennsylvania Education Association said under Mastriano’s plan, half of all school jobs, including teachers, counselors and support staff, would be eliminated, resulting in a loss of more than $12 billion in funding.

Mastriano dismissed the criticism at a campaign event in Myerstown, saying he voted in favor of increasing funding for public schools within the budget.

“These people are a bunch of liars, and while spending on education has increased by nearly a billion dollars, ‘Mastriano is a danger to our education.'” “

PSEA supports that analysis.

“I think what Senator Mastriano is trying to do is have both ways, and the math simply doesn’t support it,” said PSEA President Rich Askey.

Are school choices better for students?

There are no studies yet on how effective the new program is.

According to Martin West, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, research on older repetitions shows that long-term outcomes such as graduation and college placement tend to be positive.

Similarly, there is no evidence that older programs adversely affect performance in public schools or in students who attend them.

However, the study does not address proposals that could reduce public school funding while allowing students to use their resources to enroll in private schools.

“Because it wasn’t something that happened elsewhere and it wasn’t studied,” West said.

Marc LeBlond, policy director at EdChoice, a school choice nonprofit, says choice can put student needs at the center of the conversation.

“What will happen to the mechanism by which parents make the decision to switch? It’s going to be painful,” he said, adding, “Happy parents, happy kids will stay.”

During the pandemic, York’s parent, Amelia McMillan, chose to send her then kindergartener on a cyber charter. she said. A wide range of school choices concern her, coupled with drastic cuts in public education on which many families depend.

“That would be terrible,” she said. McMillan, whose daughter has returned to traditional public schools, believes that public education should be leveled. “All kids deserve the same opportunity, and public schools give them that,” she said.

How does school choice work elsewhere?

The school selection system proposed by Mastriano is not new.

Arizona’s recently expanded program, which provides 90% of the state’s education funding directly to families, is already facing challenges from opponents. If the law is upheld, it will be the most far-reaching program in the country.

A similar attempt in West Virginia last year was quickly dismissed following legal challenges, but the appeal is set to be heard in the state’s Supreme Court this fall.

“Private school voucher programs generally raise a number of legal concerns and may be subject to Pennsylvania constitutional challenges for multiple reasons,” said the Education Law Center, a legal and advocacy organization. said Maura McInerney, General Counsel at . The nonprofit declined to comment on the candidate and its platform.

Where Will Democratic Candidate Josh Shapiro Fall?

Shapiro said he would fully fund the school, but also emphasized parental options, such as scholarships to help students move out of underperforming districts. Shapiro he is PSEA approved.

“I think it’s very important that public education is well funded,” he said at a campaign event in Gettysburg earlier this month. I think it’s also very important to be able to put it in the right place.”

What’s in the legislative branch today?

Various efforts have been made to advance education savings accounts in Congress. The closest is the Lifeline Scholarship, which passed the House in April. A revised version is now awaiting action in the Senate.

The Lifeline Scholarship qualifies children attending public schools with poor grades to receive state funding for alternative programs. The measure would provide most students with $6,697 annually and special education students with up to $50,000. About 10% of Pennsylvania’s nearly 2 million students, or 191,000 she covers.

For decades, efforts to abolish property taxes failed, and there was no way to agree on how to make up for lost school income. A bill to replace public school revenues by raising other state taxes has not yet passed a House committee.

https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/explainer-doug-mastrianos-plan-for-pennsylvania-school-choice/ Description: Doug Mastriano’s Plan for School Choices in Pennsylvania

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