MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) — Teachers, politicians and labor leaders gathered outside the Mercer County Courthouse on Saturday.
This was to protest House Bill 2169, also known as the Lifeline Scholarship Bill. The bill passed the House and is on its way to the State Senate.
The Lifeline Scholarship Bill narrowly passed the State House Education Committee last month. The bill allows students from underperforming school districts to take their state funding and use it to attend private institutions instead.
Opponents include current state representative Mark Longietti.
He said the bill, if passed, would destroy the Commonwealth’s public education system.
“When a student leaves the public school district, they provide money that would normally go to the state public school district,” he said.
Local union leaders say the bill does not support the vast majority of students in the public school system.
“They are some of the brightest kids and they have the brightest future. But, if we take that money away from them, we take away their textbooks, their field trips, perhaps taking teachers away from the classroom,” Amanda McGee, president-elect of the Sharon City Schools Teacher’s Association.
Aaron Chapin is the vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. He is also a fifth grade teacher. Chapin said this issue shouldn’t be so divided.
“I am for education. I am for public education. I firmly believe that public education is the most important cornerstone of our state,” Chapin said.
He said public education should be funded properly.
The PSEA strongly opposes the bill. In a statement, the organization said there was no accountability for how the money was spent.
The bill is now in the state senate. If passed there, it will be up to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to decide whether the bill will stand.