Archbishop Chaput Uses Catholic School Savings to Push School Vouchers
Four Philadelphia-area Catholic schools previously targeted for closure—Bonner-Prendie, Saint Huberts, West Catholic and Conwell-Egan—were saved today, due to large anonymous donations and the creation of an independent foundation to help raise money. The announcement came early this afternoon and a press conference was held at 3 p.m. to discuss what was widely heralded as good news for the Archdiocese.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, who made the announcement, acknowledged early that the decision to keep the schools open was a risky one, and that there is essentially no long-term plan. Chaput said without a voucher system, the school system will end up exactly where it was a month ago. “We need expanded EITC (education-incentive tax credits) funds and opportunity scholarships to help our schools survive,” he said.
The PA Catholic Conference has focused much of their lobbying efforts and newsletters to such a state education plan.
Chaput was joined by several politicians, including City Councilman Brian O’Neill and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
Williams, a Democrat, co-sponsored a Pennsylvania school voucher bill in 2011 and ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2010 on the voucher idea. He received the vast majority of his donations from school choice advocates. He also gained the attention of then-Inquirer columnist Rick Santorum over his voucher plan. Santorum called him, “not your typical liberal black legislator, à la fellow West Philadelphian Rep. Chaka Fattah.”
Toward the end of said press conference, Archbishop Chaput again expressed his support for a school voucher program within the state, citing it will help poor children. “We all have a responsibility for the poor,” he said. As the proceeding ended, there was a massive applause.