Schlossberg: Truth in public school advertising passes House

HARRISBURG, June 12 – Public schools that advertise “free” tuition or transportation would be required to state that taxpayer dollars are paying the cost under a bill that passed the state House of Representatives today, according to Rep. Mike Schlossberg.


The bill (H.B. 355), incorporates language from Schlossberg’s stand-alone legislation (H.B. 894), introduced in March and heads to the Senate for consideration.


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."


“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. “The advertising deception to attract students reveals that it’s less about educating our children and more about attracting the most pupils to attend because each student comes with a high payout that ultimately falls on the shoulders of taxpayers.”


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."