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PHILADELPHIA BOARD OF EDUCATION APPROVES STRONG RESOLUTION OPPOSING PRIVATE, PAROCHIAL SCHOOL VOUCHERS

 PHILADELPHIA BOARD OF EDUCATION APPROVES STRONG RESOLUTION
 OPPOSING PRIVATE, PAROCHIAL SCHOOL VOUCHERS
 PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- At a special meeting today, the Board of Education of the School District of Philadelphia unanimously approved the following resolution opposing any amendment to the Pennsylvania School Code of 1949 or the Pennsylvania Constitution that would permit the diversion of additional public funds to private or parochial schools.
 The vote followed testimony to the board by various educational and civic groups opposed to the voucher bills now before the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
 Following is the text of the resolution:
 WHEREAS, At the present time there are various bills proposed in the General Assembly of Pennsylvania providing for an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution and to the Public School Code of 1949 that would permit the diversion of public funds to private or parochial schools through a voucher system; and
 WHEREAS, Dr. Constance E. Clayton, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, submitted testimony to committees of the General Assembly on Senate Bill 992 and on House Bill 1133 indicating on her own behalf and on behalf of the Board of Education, opposition to this voucher bill; and
 WHEREAS, Passage of pending legislation would undermine ongoing school reform efforts and jeopardize equal education opportunities for all students in the Commonwealth for numerous reasons, among which are:
 -- Private schools are not subject to the same rules and regulations as public schools and are free to reject students for any reason they choose.
 -- Equity issues related to the selection of students by private schools are not addressed. Students would receive the same amount of state support regardless of whether they are wealthy. A proposed amendment in the Senate to establish a lottery system for enrollment did not pass.
 -- Philadelphia's voluntary desegregation program -- which is based on school choice -- could be seriously jeopardized.
 -- The system for students who wish to attend a public school outside of their region is complex and in many cases would only be available to those parents able to afford transportation costs and able to pay substantial tuition fees.
 -- The budgetary implications to the Commonwealth are enormous and there is no provision in the bill identifying the source of needed revenue to pay for it. In the first year cost to fund the status quo by providing vouchers to those already attending private and parochial schools is estimated at over 300 million dollars; and
 WHEREAS, Philadelphia presently has an expanding system of choice within its public schools including, the desegregation program, the magnet schools, alternative schools, schools within schools such as the High School Academies and the Charters which are characteristic of school restructuring; and
 WHEREAS, As public schools we accept the responsibility for teaching all children and intend to fully discharge our mission to fulfill our unique, legal and moral obligation to educate all children; and
 WHEREAS, The Commonwealth through the Intermediate Units and the School Districts already provides nearly Two Hundred Million Dollars in support of non-public schools; and
 WHEREAS, Vouchers will do nothing to improve the quality of education throughout the Commonwealth or to help Pennsylvania achieve the National Education goals or Philadelphia achieve its Major System Goals; now therefore be it
 RESOLVED. That the Board of Public Education of the School District of Philadelphia hereby declares to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania its strong opposition to any amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution and to the Public School Code of 1949 that would permit the diversion of public funds to private or parochial schools regardless of the title that the General Assembly gives to such a program.
 /delval/
 -0- 12/9/91
 /Editors: Sound bites, the text of statements by Board President Dr. Ruth W. Hayre and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Constance E. Clayton, and details about the public testimony presented to the board are available from contact./
 /CONTACT: William C. Thompson of the School District of Philadelphia, 215-299-7850/ CO: School District of Philadelphia ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU: LEG


MK-LJ -- PH037 -- 0689 12/09/91 16:10 EST
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Date:Dec 9, 1991
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