PA School Choice Bill Doesn’t Offer True Choice

 Pandering To Inner City Reps Could Doom Passage

And so it begins.  The first challenge to Governor Tom Corbett is upon him.  Surprisingly, it’s not from public sector unions, trial lawyers or natural gas opponents, but from within his own Party. 

It’s a challenge that, if handled the right way, would send a message that the Corbett Administration will turn Business As Usual on its head.  If not, the GOP caucus could factionalize, in turn jeopardizing a host of other tough issues on the Governor’s agenda.

And it all revolves around misguided school choice legislation that would do more harm than good.


This being School Choice Week, it’s ironic that the Pennsylvania Senate choice bill — introduced with much hoopla — would neither improve schools nor offer true choice.  Instead, it is legislation stuck in the past, once again pandering to the wrong crowd — the Black Caucus. These are the folks that some choice advocates still naively believe are necessary to court in order to achieve even a modest school choice victory.

They were wrong fifteen years ago, and they’re wrong now.  In fact, not only is Senate Bill 1 a bad bill, but one that will have a difficult time passing.

At issue is the program being limited to low income families, defined as those whose income is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level – a family of four would qualify at $28,000 household income.  And that’s after a three-year phase-in. 

Left out of the equation is….everybody else. 

Pennsylvania’s students are subpar across the board — inner city, suburb and rural.  Not only can they not effectively compete with their counterparts in other states (they are 42nd in SAT scores), but, as a whole, are part of our nation’s systemic educational failure.  America’s students consistently rank near the bottom in math, science and literacy when compared to their global competitors.  And since this is an ever-increasing world economy, that’s a recipe for disaster.

The days of competing with Seattle and San Francisco are over; our best and brightest can barely keep up with average students in Singapore, Stockholm and Sydney.

And yet we’re supposed to believe that an extremely limited school choice program for relatively few inner city students is going to be the panacea? 

Give us a break.

One of the bill’s prime sponsors, mid-state Republican Jeff Piccola, should know better.  A longtime champion of education choice, Piccola has nonetheless dropped the ball on this bill, buying into the politically-correct hype that having at least one black legislator on board is the only way to assure passage.  So he allied himself with Democratic Senator Anthony Williams from Philadelphia.

Williams, you may recall, threw himself into last year’s governor’s race late in the game, backed by a few wealthy supporters who pumped more than $5 million into his campaign.  One of Williams’ major issues was school choice.

Fine.  The fact that Williams, up to that point, had never been a leader on school choice raised a few questions, but give him the benefit of the doubt that he is now a choice advocate. But to what level?

True believers realize that school choice will only work if the vast majority of students participate, something impossible with the Piccola-Williams bill.

Why should Williams care?  His constituents will benefit, but the other 99% of Pennsylvania families will be left out in the cold.  Not a tough choice for Tony.

But for the majority of legislators who will be asked to make a tough vote, look for them to start pushing back, countering with a simple message to the bill’s prime sponsors and the Governor:  do it right, or not at all.


The reason this bill is doomed is simple.  As it stands now, suburban and rural legislators will be asked to incur the wrath of the teachers’ unions (who stand adamantly opposed to the accountability that school choice legislation would bring), while their constituents would not benefit in the least. 

And make no mistake about the teachers’ unions.  While they spent millions in last year’s election cycle, and were soundly defeated, their forced union dues make their campaign war chests virtually unlimited.   Being a presidential election year, 2012 should prove….

Read the rest and post a comment at Philly Magazine’s Philly Post:


Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at

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January 28, 2011 at 6:23 am Comments (0)

Montco GOP Executive Committee Results

Commissioner: Bruce Castor (i); Jenny Brown
Court of Common Pleas: Dan Clifford, Maureen Coggins
Controller: Stewart Greenleaf Jr
Coroner: Gordon Clement
Clerk of Courts: Moon Ahn
Prothonotary: Bill Donnelly
Sheriff: Eileen Behr
District Attorney: Risa Vetri Ferman (i)
Treasurer: Martin Dyas
Register of Wills: Valerie Harris
Recorder of Deeds: Nancy Becker (i)

The full MontcoGOP will meet on Feb 9th to officially endorse a slate.

January 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm Comments (0)

Metcalfe Working on Presidential Eligibility Law

Not surprising.

But he joins at least four other states in proposing a similar law.

In Pennsylvania, there was excitement over the GOP majority of both houses of the state legislature as well as the governor’s office.

Assemblyman Daryl Metcalfe told WND he is working on a proposal that would demand documentation of constitutional eligibility.

He described it as a “problem” that there has been no established procedure for making sure that presidential candidates meet the Constitution’s requirements for age, residency and being a “natural born citizen.”

“We hope we would be able to pass this legislation and put it into law before the next session,” he said.

He said any one of the states imposing such a requirement would be effective in solving his concerns.

“I think the public relations nightmare that would ensue if any candidate would thumb their noses at a single state would torpedo their campaign,” he told WND.

The bill is likely to pass in Arizona. But Montana, Georgia and Texas are also working on similar bills.

January 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm Comments (0)

State of the Union

I didn’t watch it. I didn’t have the stomach for it.

Instead I caught Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel.
He visited our fair commonwealth this evening.

Among his “bizarre” eats.

Snapper soup. It’s something I grew up eating. In the can from Bookbinders.
He did actually “fish” for turtles in NEPa and did eat lightly sauteed “swamp oysters.” It was obviously something the locals NEVER eat. Only eaten for the TV shock value. (See below)

Two sandwiches from John’s Roast Pork in South Philly. A cheesesteak and a roast pork. Bizarre

A chocolate covered onion and some pretty gnarly old cheese from Reading Terminal Market count I guess.

Likewise tripe and tongue sandwiches from an Italian Market sandwich vendor.

But a trip to Czerw’s Kielbasa (“You can’t beat our meats!”) in Port Richmond is not at all bizarre. While there he ate polish comfort food. Something I grew up with, but most Pennsylvanians have probably had.

He visted Iron Chef Morimoto at his restaurant in Philadelphia and had some “extreme” sushi. But that’s not really Pennsylvanian per se. No one’s ever pulled a blowfish out of the Schuylkill River… and definatly not had it’s eggs or testicles. (See above)

His last stop was a straight-up redneck scrapple making family. They had a great time. The entire family got together and between beers, swimming and skeet, slaughtered the pig, boiled it for hours, and served it fried.

Interestingly, watching my facebook news feed during the speech, only my conservative friends were commenting on it. My liberal friends (yes I have them) were strangely silent. Maybe they were all at SOTU parties and will update later tonight.

To summarize, I watched a grown man eat the reproductive organs of several animals AND the preparation of scrapple. … I’m glad I missed the President’s speech. My stomach thanks me.

January 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm Comments (0)

Abortuary Inspections Yield Deficiencies

Funny how inspections have been back for a year, but we only hear about problems now.

It wasn’t until after a drug raid in February 2010 that revealed conditions at Gosnell’s clinic that the State Health Department resumed abortion clinic inspections. The grand jury said those inspections had ended about 1995 for political reasons, to avoid barriers for women seeking abortions.

Gov. Tom Corbett, who took office last week, has asked his nominees for secretaries of health and state to look into the criticism that the state ceased inspections for political reasons when Gov. Tom Ridge became governor in 1995, a policy that continued under Govs. Mark Schweiker and Ed Rendell. Their report is not yet complete, a spokeswoman for Corbett said Tuesday.

The new inspections resulted in letters to six clinics in Pittsburgh, five in Philadelphia, three in Allentown and clinics in East Liberty, Upland, York, West Chester, Harrisburg, Reading, Norristown and Warminster.

14 out of 22 “freestanding clinics” were ordered to fix their problems.

January 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm Comment (1)

Liberal Media Summarized

January 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm Comments (0)

Monday with Mossie on Live and Local with Barry Papiernik WFYL 1180 AM

On today’s show, Barry and I will be discussing Kermit Gosnell and the West Philly baby charnel house as well as the changes at MSNBC.

Live streaming here.

January 24, 2011 at 9:19 am Comments (0)

Steelers to Super Bowl

Well, if it can’t be the Iggles, it might as well be the Steelers.

Congrats, Steelernation.

January 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm Comment (1)

Super Bowl…Go Packers!!!

Go Packers!!!  I could care less who wins in the AFC game, although I predict the Jets will win.

January 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm Comments (0)

Marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in the age of the baby charnel house

Obama issued the following statement on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the eve of the March for life:

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.

I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.

And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

That bit about protecting women’s health is laughable when viewed through the lens of the West Philly Baby Charnel House of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. It’s funny that our president has time to congratulate Jeffrey Lurie about the new green Eagles stadium and Michael Vick, but can still use such sanitized and false language about abortion. If the horrific discoveries in West Philly teach us anything, it’s that, at least in some cases, terminating nascent life is more — much more — important than “women’s health.”

Furthermore, it seems the only bit of private life and health that the government is unwilling to regulate is this heinous practice.

As far as ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and freedoms as our sons, Kermit Gosnell had this to say about that:

“I tried to give my patients the care I expect my daughter to receive.”

Our president chose his words especially poorly.

Governor Tom Corbett, meanwhile, has vowed to get to the bottom of this:

Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday that he gave the Health Department and the secretary of State a one-week deadline to report to him on what happened in the bungled oversight of a squalid abortion clinic that a Philadelphia prosecutor described as a “house of horrors,” where babies born alive were killed with scissors.

Corbett told the Tribune-Review that he asked for a “detailed report” about how to prevent such a tragedy.

Yes yes yes. Detailed reports are all well and good, Governor, but how do we know how deep this rabbit hole goes? Finding and assigning blame for this incident does nothing to assuage the fears of many who feel that this may not be the only baby charnel house in operation out there.


Physician Kermit Barron Gosnell had an unusual reaction to the death of Karnamaya Mongar in November 2009. The next day, he applied to join the National Abortion Federation, whose membership is often seen as a badge of quality.

To prepare for a site visit, Gosnell and his wife, Pearl, frantically cleaned the facility, replacing bloody recliners and temporarily hiring a professional the clinic had long lacked: a nurse.

His failed effort to bluff his way through the application appalled prosecutors. But worse, they said, “he made no effort to address the grave deficiencies in his practice that had caused Karnamaya Mongar’s death.”

That NAF official came in, toured the facility and remarked that she had never seen such deploarble conditions. And while she did not give Gosnell’s facility the NAF seal of approval, neither did she report her findings to any authority for follow up.

So, please Governor Cobett, forgive us when we say we’re not quite convinced when pro-abortion organizations tell us that places like Gosnell’s are the exception and not the rule. We need an army of state auditors descending on these places like locusts.

January 23, 2011 at 5:47 pm Comments (0)

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