This week, a bill to fund students instead of systems is moving through the Pennsylvania legislature. Originally proposed in April, this bill would amend the Public School Code of 1949 (P.L.30, No.14) to add a provision that makes it mandatory for public schools to provide full-time in-person instruction or to establish a tuition grant program. This means that state funding would be transferred from the school district to eligible students, enabling students and families to choose a school —any school — that will provide full-time in-person instruction.
Every student in Pennsylvania who is denied full-time in-person instruction for any reason would be eligible for a tuition grant and, better still, would continue to be eligible as long as they reside within the district boundaries — regardless of whether or not the district school resumes full-time in-person instruction.
The bill was reported out of the education committee last Wednesday by a (largely partisan) vote of 14-11 and was scheduled for a second hearing on the House floor today. An amendment specific to districts’ COVID-19 policies failed, and the bill was carried over to tomorrow, September 29, at which point a vote is likely. Although many parents in Pennsylvania favor school choice, the teachers union is preparing to push back.