MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) – Teachers, politicians and union leaders alike gathered outside the Mercer County Courthouse on Saturday.
It was to protest House Bill 2169, also known as the Lifeline Scholarship Bill. The bill passed in the House and is on the way to the state Senate.
The Lifeline Scholarship bill was passed last month narrowly by the House Education Committee in the state house. The bill allows students in under-performing school districts to take their state funding and use it to attend private institutions instead.
Those in opposition include current state representative Mark Longietti.
He said the bill, if passed, would destroy the public education system in the Commonwealth.
“When a student leaves the public school district, it provides money that would normally go to the public school district from the state,” he said.
Local union leaders say the bill does not support the vast majority of students in the public school system.
“They’re some of the brightest kids and they have brightest futures. But, if we take this money away from them, we are taking away their textbooks, their field trips, possibly taking away teachers in the classroom,” Amanda McGee, the president-elect of Sharon City Schools Teacher’s Association.
Aaron Chapin is the vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. He’s also a fifth-grade teacher. Chapin said this issue should not be so divided.
“I’m for education. I’m 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 firmly stands against the bill. In a release, the organization said there is no accountability for how the money is spent.
The bill is now off to the state senate. If it passes there, it will be up to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to decide if the bill will stand.