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‘School Choice’ Program Gains Traction In Harrisburg

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Right now, if parents choose to send their children to private or parochial schools, they must pay for that education and still pay taxes to fund their local public schools.

In what’s called School Choice, some parents who opt out of public schools would get a special tax break. The bill is backed by Governor Tom Corbett and some legislators.

Today, local Catholic educators spoke out in favor of the idea.

“Parental choice in education will save the taxpayer a lot of money. It will preserve very cost-effective non-public schools that are already serving the children well in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Ronald Bowes, assistant superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, said.

Parochial school leaders like the idea of an educational tax credit that would provide public tax dollars to low and middle income families who send their children to parochial and private schools.

Bowes says School Choice improves education.

“We also believe that through the market forces, competition and accountability will make everybody more responsive, more caring,” says Bowes. “And we’ll have a better educational system in Pennsylvania where the money would follow the child.”

Critics of School Choice now say that it’s costly. One estimate of the cost is $400 million. They also say it’s an effort to hurt local public schools in order to bail out failing parochial schools.

At this time, it’s unclear whether legislators can agree on a particular School Choice bill and pass it by June 30.

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