State Rep. Mike Sturla

Chairman, Democratic Policy Committee

State Rep. Jake Wheatley


Hearing Co-Chairman   



Democratic Policy Committee considers the issue of school vouchers


PITTSBURGH, March 23 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today held a public hearing at the University of Pittsburgh to examine the effect school vouchers would have in Pennsylvania, said Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.


State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, who serves on the House Education Committee, requested the hearing and served as its co-chairman.


"The Policy Committee is playing a vital role in airing out the issues related to school vouchers," Sturla said. "And while the legislation is not yet before the House, I am confident our members will be fully informed as to all sides of the argument before having to vote on a proposal.


"I am concerned that vouchers are not a good approach to helping our state’s failing schools. It is the smart investments of the past eight years that have led to higher academic achievement across the board in Pennsylvania. Given the devastating implications the proposed Republican budget would have, now is not the time to further undercut public education."


"I want to thank Chairman Sturla for holding a hearing on this issue in Pittsburgh. This detailed hearing allowed us to explore many aspects of this issue. We all want to improve education, and learning more about possible ways to do that is helpful," Wheatley said.


Several panels of experts testified including Panel one: Ira Weiss, solicitor, School District of Pittsburgh; John Tarka, president, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers; Marianne Neel, president, Pennsylvania School Board Association; Dr. Ronald Sofo, superintendent, Freedom Area School District; Panel two: Dawn Chavous, executive director, Students First; Randall Taylor, former member, Pittsburgh City School Board; Otto Banks, executive director, REACH Alliance and Foundation; Panel three: Phillip Murren, attorney, Ball, Murren & Connell; Matthew Brouillette, president, Commonwealth Foundation; Panel four: Sandra Zelno, school reform associate, Education Law Center; Sara Rose, staff attorney, ACLU of Pennsylvania; Shauna D'Alessandro, education committee member, PA State Conference of NAACP Branches; Lynn Foltz, member, PA State Conference of NAACP Branches; Christine Stone, state public affairs chair of Pennsylvania, National Council of Jewish Women Inc.; and Panel five: Dr. Ronald Bowes, superintendent for public policy and development, Diocese of Pittsburgh; Sean Berger, student, North Catholic High School; Sam Siple, president, Eden Christian Academy; Miriam Hixon, parent, Penn Christian Academy; and Dan Kraut, CEO, Hillel School.


For more information about the Policy Committee and hearing materials, visit