School vouchers seem to be a dead issue at the Capitol, but supporters promise to continue pushing lawmakers.
The archbishop of Philadelphia is pushing his flock. He recently linked nearly 50 Philly school closings to the fact that Catholics haven't complained vigorously enough to their elected officials for vouchers, and he pointed a finger at Harrisburg.
Archbishop Charles Chaput was inundated with complaints after school closings in Philadelphia. Chaput unleashed a few complaints of his own in his weekly column.
"Some Catholics, too many, seem to find it easier to criticize their own leaders than to face the fact that they're discriminated against every day of the year. They pay once for public schools; then they pay again for the Catholic schools," he wrote.
Andy Hoover of the ACLU says the recent voucher bills would let private schools do the discriminating with no oversight on who they accept or reject.
"They could deny admission to kids based on religion, disability, ethnicity, and language skills, sexual orientation, and sexual gender identity," he said.
Chaput also blamed the Capitol. He wrote: "Catholics should hold public leaders, beginning with our elected officials in Harrisburg, to an equally demanding standard."
He wants vouchers, and Harrisburg Bishop Joseph McFadden agrees.
"Vouchers would help the situation immeasurably because it would give just to the parents, they would finally get a chance to use their tax dollars for their child's education," he said.
The Saint Patrick Cathedral School in Harrisburg has 175 students, but it's estimated only half of them are Catholic. The others belong to city parents looking for a public school alternative. ABC27 was also told there's a waiting list of parents that would come if they had vouchers.
"The taxpayer money we spend on education is not intended to be an ATM machine for parents. We invest in education as a state and as a country because we know it's good for the country," Hoover said.
But closing Catholic schools is bad for society, according to Bishop McFadden, who worries about a monopolistic public school system.
"In totalitarian governments, they would love our system," he said. "This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all those tried to establish a monolith so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things."
With words like Hitler and discrimination, the rhetoric sure is hot. Whether vouchers still have any heat at the Capitol remains to be seen.