Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is calling on Catholics angered by plans to close 45 elementary schools and four high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to direct their energies to getting their elected officials to support school vouchers instead.
The archbishop said public officials discriminate against Catholic students by not having public money support their education.
Chaput is incorrect in thinking that private schools do not get tax benefits. Churches are not taxed on properties that they own. The Philadelphia School District also pays the transportation costs for parochial students and the cost of parochial school nurses and crossing guards. That amounts to $37 million annually.
While school vouchers may sound nice on the surface, the state would not be paying for the vouchers. That money would come from the individual school districts. That will harm the public schools. And just because a family receives a voucher does not mean the private school will necessarily accept the child.
Doug Heuer, superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, said in a recent interview that, "The discussion about the propriety of subsidizing private schools with public tax dollars may have a place, but placing it ahead of the priority of creating a mandated, equitable funding system for public education is a lot like discussing the proper positioning of deck chairs on the Titanic while it's sinking."
The state funding formula must be fixed. That is the real problem. And the solution isn't school vouchers.