Schlossberg amendment would provide transparency to ‘free’ tuition ads (WITH VIDEO)

HARRISBURG, April 19 – Public schools that advertise “free” tuition or transportation would be required to state that taxpayer dollars are paying the cost, under an amendment that was adopted by the state House of Representatives today, according to its prime sponsor Rep. Mike Schlossberg.

“No charter or cyber-charter school is free; taxpayers pay for these schools, like any other. Taxpayers deserve to be given credit for footing the bill,” said Schlossberg, D-Lehigh.

Schools across the state and nationwide are using various forms of advertising to attract students to increase enrollment. However, some schools advertise their services and programs as “free."

Instruction and other programs and services at all public schools in Pennsylvania, including brick-and-mortar charter and cyber-charter schools, are taxpayer funded, just like at traditional public schools. To ensure a level playing field for all public schools competing for student enrollment in Pennsylvania, Schlossberg said the state should make sure all public schools tell the truth in their advertising about who is paying the bills.

He said the requirement would be consistent with the Taxpayer-Funded Advertising Transparency Act of 2015 that says paid advertising by state agencies must include the phrase "Paid for with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars."

Schlossberg’s amendment was added to H.B. 97, which is ready for final passage when the House returns to session Monday. He also introduced stand-alone legislation (H.B. 1203) that is similar to the amendment and which is part of a larger charter school reform package.

“I continue to have concerns with the bill but this moves it toward a better direction and I appreciate the opportunity to work with my Republican colleagues,” Schlossberg said.