Thursday, January 19, 2012

School Choice and where we go from here in Pennsylvania Christian Schools

I'm sure you've heard by now that Senate Bill 1, otherwise known as the "voucher proposal" or the "school choice bill" did not make it through the state legislature in any form.  The expansion of EITC, which was billed as a "sure thing," also did not make it through.  I'm sure that there are a wide variety of pundits and political experts who can explain why something that many politicians, including the Governor, went out on a limb to proclaim as almost a "sure thing" did not make it through the House of Representatives.  There were many people within the Christian education community who believed that the political atmosphere in Pennsylvania was "never better" to get this legislation enacted.  Others thought that the slow economy and the extremely tight state budget made it more difficult for legislators to consider this proposal.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.  Psalm 146:3.
So where do we go from here? 
Personally, seeing how things developed here with regard to school choice, and having observed and participated in a similar scenario in another state, with more or less the same outcome, I'm inclined to change direction just a little bit and push for expansion of EITC, rather than start another school choice/voucher initiative.  EITC doesn't involve state money, which ultimately means it will not involve state control of education, either, and it is more suited to the kind of financing we need to be doing in the Christian school ministry.  It allows businesses a tax break for their involvement, which is not only fair, given the tax exempt status of a Christian school, but practical, since the money goes to students who are attending the school, increasing opportunities for students to be enrolled, and benefiting the school's budget.  
I think it is also time for legislators to consider all educational expenses as being tax deductible, including tuition and fees paid if the family opts to send their children to a private school.  That's only fair, since the public educational monopoly gets money from everyone, including people who don't have children enrolled in them.  That doesn't seem to be on the table right now, however.  
I know several of our families took the time to call their state representative or senator, and voice their support for school choice in Pennsylvania.  Trust me, that did not fall on deaf ears.  Representative Richard Stevenson, of Grove City, who represents the district that our school is in, actually came by the campus for a visit and spent about 90 minutes visiting classes and chatting with students and teachers.  He already had an appreciation and a good idea of the work we do here, and his visit helped give him an even better perspective of our value to the community. 
PCS is the only fully accredited PK through 12th grade Christian School in Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties.  That gives us numerous advantages in seeking out prospective students and prospective assistance in financing the education we provide.  Please join me in prayer for God's leadership as we move forward to glorify him through his son.  Depending on God is the only way forward.