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PHILADELPHIA BOARD OF EDUCATION BLASTS $350 MILLION VOUCHER BILLS

 PHILADELPHIA BOARD OF EDUCATION BLASTS $350 MILLION VOUCHER BILLS
 PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Board of Education of the School District of Philadelphia, in a special meeting yesterday, condemned the school voucher bills under consideration in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
 In a unanimously adopted resolution, the board noted that what it called "this voucher reimbursement scheme" for parents of children in non-public schools would cost Pennsylvania taxpayers an estimated $350 million just to subsidize families whose children already are enrolled in non-public schools, without the exercise of any new so- called "choice" options.
 Board members, the superintendent of schools and a number of speakers elaborated on the theme that the voucher bills are not about educational choice and educational improvement but rather are about funding religious-based and other private sectarian schools at taxpayer expense.
 Board President Dr. Ruth W. Hayre commented, "Vouchers offer little real opportunity for low-income families," and she pointed out that the proposed $900 payment to non-public school parents was insufficient to pay costs associated with tuition and transportation.
 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Constance E. Clayton, noted that Pennsylvania already provides an estimated $200 million in services -- such as transportation and health screenings -- to non-public schools throughout the state. This is believed to be the highest level of support by any state in the nation for non-public school services.
 Several board members' comments echoed those of their board colleague, attorney Rotan E. Lee, who called the proposed voucher program, "the abandonment of the public education system," and the voucher payments, "an illusory tax rebate."
 Ted Kirsch, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, in addressing the board pointed out that Philadelphia would especially feel the impact of a voucher system. Kirsch noted that, out of the 501 public school districts throughout Pennsylvania, more than 400 do not have within their areas any private or parochial schools.
 Chris Davis, executive director of the Parents' Union, which opposes vouchers, stated, "The House and Senate bills have nothing to do with education. They are really about money for non-public schools."
 Board member Ernestine Rouse said she was angered by this legislation which is "pitting educators against each other." Referring to her public school education, and her belief that the voucher program is a "smokescreen" for an anti-public school bias, Rouse stated that the crafters and proponents of the voucher program are "trying to erode the bridge (public education) that brought us all over."
 /delval/
 -0- 12/10/91
 /CONTACT: William Thompson of the School District of Philadelphia, 215-299-7850/ CO: School District of Philadelphia ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


JS-KA -- PH031 -- 1174 12/10/91 16:05 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 10, 1991
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