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March 29, 1999


Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, applauds Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge for introducing school choice legislation today in Harrisburg. "I am heartened by Governor Ridge's continued commitment to school vouchers," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "His legislative proposal today is a vital step towards making school choice a reality for everyone in the Commonwealth, and providing all parents with their inherent right to choose a school for their children."

Governor Ridge unveiled legislation that would create a pilot school voucher program, which would assist students in each county within the Archdiocese, as well as assist students in each region of the state. "The Commonwealth must work to ensure that all children have access to a quality education, acceptable to their parents, at a public, private or parochial school," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "This initiative would do that."

Currently, 40 cities across the country have school voucher programs, including publicly funded programs in Milwaukee and Cleveland, serving more than 30,000 students. Tens of thousands more students are on waiting lists to participate in school voucher programs. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, there are 214 elementary schools and 22 high schools with approximately 25,000 seats available for new students. Together with private Catholic elementary and secondary schools, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese educate over 121,000 students of all faiths.

"Tuition is still beyond the reach of too many parents who cannot afford the twin costs of taxes and tuition," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "School vouchers would ensure that parents, especially the poor, have a choice. School choice is a matter of justice, and is imperative for parents facing financial hardship. Governor Ridge's initiative will help restore parents as the rightful decision makers regarding their children's education. I strongly urge the legislature to approve this initiative promptly."


Cathy Rossi

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