In an open letter to Governor Josh Shapiro on the 2023 PA budget, a coalition of 65 organizations and leaders, including the Pennsylvania Family Council, are asking the Governor to support the creation of the Lifeline Scholarship Program in Pennsylvania, which would help thousands of students in failing schools across the Commonwealth. The letter was signed by over 50 organizations and several educational leaders, including two former Secretaries of the United States Department of Education, Betsy Devos and Bill Bennett. 

The PA Senate included the creation of a Lifeline Scholarship Program as part of their state budget package passed on June 30th. Yet PA House Democrats, backed by teacher unions, have voiced opposition to a budget that includes this beneficial program.

Lifeline Scholarships would save lives by empowering students trapped in a school district that is failing to meet their educational needs. This program would specifically help families in the bottom 15% of performing school districts. According to the Commonwealth Foundation, 77 percent of Pennsylvania eighth-graders are not proficient in math and 44 percent are not proficient in language arts. These are simply unacceptable numbers. 

“Without Lifeline Scholarships, we are setting our children up for failure before they even have an opportunity to succeed,” writes the letter.

This new program would not affect current public school funding, as the money for these schools would be in addition to educational funding allotments.  The program would also save public school money. As the letter highlights, “the program provides $5,000 and $10,000 scholarships for students who wish to leave their assigned public school—a fraction of the $21,300 per student that school districts receive.” 

Lifeline Scholarships have bipartisan support by lawmakers but face fierce opposition by the teachers’ unions and education bureaucracy resistant against parental choice in schooling. Governor Josh Shapiro has said several times that he would support both lifeline scholarships and school choice. In a Fox News interview, Gov. Shapiro said, “I believe every child of God deserves a shot here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and one of the best ways we can guarantee their success is making sure every child has a quality education.”

Take Action: Contact your state lawmakers to ask for their support of Lifeline Scholarships for Pennsylvania students and families.