[Note: From the People for the American Way Webmaster, March 30, 1999.] *************************************************************
EDUCATION HOTSPOTS ... REGARDING VOUCHERS
Voucher proposals are moving forward in 28 states this year. Here are a few highlights.
Please keep in mind that much of this legislation is moving very quickly. If you have any questions or would like further information, go to http://www.pfaw.org/
**If you live in one of the states with pending voucher legislation noted below, you might consider calling your state legislators and tell them that you expect of them regarding voucher legislation.**
ARIZONA - The House of Representatives passed a pilot voucher program in mid-March, sending the bill to the Senate Education Committee.
CALIFORNIA - While no voucher legislation is likely to pass this year, there are two pro-voucher ballot initiatives in the works. If they qualify, they will be on the ballot in the 2000 election.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - We expect a reprise of the fight over vouchers for D.C. public schools. The new chairman of the House District of Columbia Appropriations Sub-committee is Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK), a staunch supporter of vouchers.
FLORIDA - Voucher bill HB 751 has passed through two House committees and is headed to the House floor. A Senate voucher bill, SB 1756, is in the Senate Education Committee and a hearing to consider amendments has been scheduled for mid-March. Although the governor is pro-voucher and Republicans dominate the state House and Senate, Toni Jennings, president of the Senate, is anti-voucher.
GEORGIA - A Senate voucher bill has failed and a House voucher bill is in committee. Meanwhile, The Edison Project, an organization promoting management of schools by for-profit companies, is taking root in the state.
ILLINOIS - A state private school tax credit bill for education expenses at private and religious schools is back, and has passed the House. Governor George Ryan has said he supports private school tax credits.
NEW MEXICO - Governor Gary Johnson is waging an all-out war for vouchers, vetoing the entire education funding bill because it didn't include a voucher provision and buying radio ads supporting vouchers.
NEW YORK - The Giuliani administration is waging an intense campaign to secure the support it needs to establish a voucher program in New York City. Meanwhile, former U.S. Congressman Rev. Floyd Flake has returned to the Allen AME church in Jamaica, Queens, to continue organizing clergy in support of vouchers.
OHIO - The Ohio Supreme Court has yet to decide on the constitutionality of the Cleveland voucher program. A recent special state audit indicated that the program includes 30 students from families with incomes ranging from $50,000 - $80,000, and more than $400,000 is being spent on taxi companies to ferry voucher students to private schools.
PENNSYLVANIA - Governor Tom Ridge has unveiled his Academic Recovery Act. If implemented, Ridge's plan would give "supervouchers" to kids in distressed school districts, to be used at any school, private, public or parochial. School districts would also be allowed to transform schools into charter schools; hire non-certified managers to operate one or more schools, or the entire district; and contract with for-profit or non-profit entities to operate and manage schools or provide educational services.
TEXAS - There is a great deal of voucher activity in Texas and a number of voucher bills have been introduced. The two bills with the most momentum, HB 709 and SB 10, are still in their committees, but are expected to move soon. _____________________________________________
ILLINOIS PRIVATE SCHOOL TAX CREDIT ALERT
The Illinois General Assembly is moving quickly to pass House Bill 999, a private school tax credit bill that would give a tax credit for private and religious school costs. HB 999 has been passed by the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. Last session, the legislature passed identical private school tax credit legislation, but former Governor Edgar vetoed the bill. This year, the legislation is moving quickly and has Governor Ryan's support.
If you live in Illinois, the bill is HB 999.
Illinois General Assembly Switchboard: 217-782-2000
NATIONAL PTA POLL
A National PTA poll has found that parents with children in public schools want the federal government to increase its investment in public schools and that federal funding for parental involvement activities has strong support among parents.
For more information, please visit the National PTA website,