GOP plan to help minority students misses the mark

To the editor:

There are a considerable number of low-achieving students in the Pennsylvania Public School System and a substantial percentage of them are minority students that attend older, under-funded inner-city schools.

The Republican controlled legislature’s attempt to solve this problem is the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program that is administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The OSTC encourages businesses to make scholarship donations to a local private or parochial school and then receive a public tax credit. The 2018-2019 state budget has $50 million allocated for this program that really does not benefit the neediest children in any way.

This attempt to privatize a solution for under-achieving minority students creates a problem for the public schools. When a public school student leave to attend a private or parochial school, the public school’s state subsidy is reduced.

This reduction in state subsidy may result in local school taxes being increased or the public school becoming a dumping ground for poorer students, low-achieving students or both.

A better solution would be to make that $50 million available to the state education department and let it administer public tax funding in ways that best meets the needs of these low-achieving students in the bottom 50 of the state’s 500 public school districts.

David L. Faust