On June 8, 2021, PAPSA joined 24 other organizations in sending a letter to members of the Pennsylvania Senate in opposition to Senate Bill 733 – Education Opportunity Account Scholarships (EOASs) respectfully urging all members of the Senate to vote no on the bill, which would create a tuition voucher program for students with special needs costing taxpayers an estimated $600 million. SB 733 changes the name of tuition vouchers to “education savings accounts” or “education opportunity account scholarships” and it is feared that SB 733 would lessen educational opportunities for students, while leading to funding cuts and higher local property taxes.
From a special education perspective, the bill expressly prohibits the commonwealth or its agencies from regulating an educational program in a nonpublic school. This effectively means the state would be prohibited from requiring a nonpublic school receiving state education resources to comply with IDEA or state regulations governing special education, even though those resources would be allocated under the proposed voucher program to provide educational supports and services to students with disabilities. Ultimately, families and students would be more vulnerable without these protections.
In essence , the letter contends that SB 733 diminishes support for K-12 public education and would undermine Pennsylvania’s responsibility to ensure every student in every community has equal access to public education. School districts in Pennsylvania are already underfunded, and this legislation requires that state money for EOAS vouchers be deducted from a school district’s subsidy.
To view the letter in its entirety, click here.
To view SB 773, click here.