Pennsylvania Governor Drops School Choice Agenda Under Pressure From Teachers' Unions

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July 6, 2023

Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro (D.) dropped his support for school choice initiatives in the face of opposition from Democrats and teachers' unions.

The Democrat previously supported a $100 million voucher program in the state budget with the backing of Senate Republicans but announced Wednesday he would abandon the proposal after House Democrats refused to budge. Shapiro told Democrats if they pass the budget, which is several days past its deadline, he will line-item veto the vouchers out.

"Our Commonwealth should not be plunged into a painful, protracted budget impasse while our communities wait for the help and resources this commonsense budget will deliver," Shapiro said in a Wednesday statement.

The program would have given students in low-achieving school districts access to private school scholarships. Senate Republicans said their passing of the budget was contingent on the voucher program.

The largest teachers' union in the state, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, was vocal in its opposition to the measure. The union in a June statement said it is "absolutely opposed" to the "voucher scheme."

It's the latest example of Democrats attacking plans to help students leave failing public school districts.

Democratic governor Roy Cooper (N.C.) declared a state of emergency in May, claiming a Republican plan to fund school choice programs would drop "an atomic bomb on public education" in his state.

"It’s time to declare a State of Emergency for public education in North Carolina," Cooper said in an address where he compared the push to a hurricane.

The head of the Nevada Democratic Party in April criticized parental input in public schools, adding she wishes she could "legislate what parents do" but "cannot."

State lawmaker Daniele Monroe-Moreno made the remark during a hearing on a Republican school choice bill. She defended the public schools in Las Vegas, ranked second-worst in the nation, by claiming criticism of the schools is just misplaced "parent input"

"All my kids went through the public school system in Clark County, and people can say what they want about CCSD—we have some amazing educators in CCSD, and they did a great job with my kids and others," Monroe-Moreno said. "And a lot of it is parent input. I wish I could legislate what parents do, but I cannot. Had to say that."

Published under: teachers union