HARRISBURG,  Oct. 26, 2011 –  State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione today voted in opposition to a school voucher plan that will spend millions to benefit a narrow group of students while draining resources from already struggling public schools.

“Instead of students choosing schools, schools will choose students. The unchosen will be children with disabilities, children with learning disorders, children with language barriers and children trapped in unstable families,” she said. “In a school system marred by inequality, the Senate today created more.

On a mostly party-line vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1, which creates a $200 million voucher program that makes only five percent of Pennsylvania students eligible and gives charter school officials the ability to accept taxpayer money, but deny admission for any or no reason.

“I understand what the supporters of this bill are trying to accomplish because I have seen what innovation can do in our public schools,” Tartaglione said. “But I represent thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of young people who will be left behind in struggling schools with fewer resources.”

Senate Bill 1 will spend $73 million from the state General Fund in the first year to allow students to leave failing schools to attend charter schools, taking their state subsidy share with them.  But the bill contains no provision for transparency in how the money is spent by charter schools or information on how they will choose students.

“The people in my district have struggled too long for civil rights just to waive them for some pretense of education reform,” she said. “It’s unconstitutional and unconscionable.”