According to an analysis conducted by a coalition of public education advocates including the Law Center’s Michael Churchill, the creation of a taxpayer-funded voucher system as proposed in Senate Bill 1 would violate multiple provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The Constitution forbids the use of taxpayer money to support religious schools, or in fact to support any school not under the “absolute control” of the Commonwealth. Further, the report concludes that establishing a voucher system would violate the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom, which reads: “no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” Because religious schools charge on average only one-third the tuition of non-religious private schools, many low-income students would be pressured to attend religious schools whose instruction conflicted with their own beliefs – and taxpayers would have no choice but to support such instruction.
The Law Center and all the authors of the report call on Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to heed the Pennsylvania Constitution and reject S.B.1.
Read the full school voucher report.