Welcome to the back-to-school installment of Broad + Liberty’s Candidate Spotlight Series! Each week, we reach out to candidates all across the Commonwealth up for election to public office — an equal number of Democrats and Republicans; incumbents and challengers. We ask one question per week about public policy pressing to you. Those who choose to respond will have their answers shared on our website every Wednesday through Sunday.

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania’s nominees for Governor and Lieutenant Governor discussed school choice. Today, nominees for U.S. Congress weigh in.

If you are a candidate for public office in Pennsylvania and would like to participate in our series, please reach out to lsattler@broadandliberty.com.

This week’s question: What are your thoughts on the Lifeline Scholarship Bill, which would provide students in the bottom 15% of the commonwealth’s lowest performing public schools with almost $7,000 in scholarship funds? Do you consider yourself a proponent of school choice?

Broad + Liberty thanks the following campaigns for their participation. Click a link below to jump to the response from your district’s candidate!

Christian Nascimento (R), Running for U.S. Congress, District 4

Having served as a public school board president, I know firsthand how important the public school system is to our nation. But if we are being honest with ourselves, our education system is failing those that need it most. That is why, even when I was on a school board, I was always in favor of charter schools and other options that worked for a particular child and their specific needs. 

I am a strong proponent of school choice, because I believe the funds should follow the child and not the system. Parents ought to have a real choice and voice in what, how and where their children learn.

Christian Nascimento’s opponent, Madeleine Dean, did not respond.

David Galluch (R), Running for U.S. Congress, District 5

School is underway across PA-05. Yet similar to last year, and many years before that, far too many children are returning to schools that are failing them. It is undeniable — many children across our district are not getting the education they deserve. Prior to Covid, many children in underperforming schools were already years behind. After 2+ years of Covid shutdowns, developmental and academic deficits have exploded, and children are further behind than ever. Our educational status quo is simply not suited to adaptation and reform — exactly what we need to save our children before it is too late.

Our educational future must be predicated on flexibility. Parents need options regarding the school that best fits their child’s needs. No two children are the same. No family is identical. What works for one may not work for another. We need an “all of the above approach” on education. Public, private, and charter schools should all be part of the equation. In Congress, I will fight for better schools, improved school infrastructure, initiatives to bridge developmental deficits caused by Covid, and special education and mental health programs. Bottom line — we must explore and support ideas and efforts that will vastly improve student outcomes.

Right here in Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District, the Philadelphia School Board is in the process of trying to revoke the charter of Southwest Leadership Academy (SWLA) Charter School. SWLA represents an alternative for students and parents to find what they are looking for and deserve. If SWLA has areas it must improve, we should help the school improve, not close it outright. There are many areas where our public schools can improve, but we do not shut them down. We need to move beyond ideology and start doing what is best for children and parents, not the system.

For too long we have allowed the political establishment to protect a broken school system. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. My opponent, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, has not and will not challenge the status quo. Resources like the Lifeline Scholarship Bill, which provide parents the financial opportunity to give their children the education that best serves their needs, are absolutely essential.

The time is now to give parents a choice in their children’s education.

David Galluch’s opponent, Mary Gay Scanlon, chose not to respond.

Guy Ciarrocchi (R), Running for U.S. Congress, District 6

I have dedicated my life to growing our economy, fighting crime, and advocating for school choice. Parents ought to be given the information and power to select the school that’s best for their child. Every child must be given access to a school that will let her or him succeed.

The federal government can play a key role in empowering parents and ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed. We must make sure all education information is available to parents — curriculum, books, testing, safety, etc. And we must support tax credits, savings accounts and any productive way to empower parents with the resources to get each child the education and support necessary to succeed.

This is a moral and economic imperative. I will not rest until parents are in charge and every child is given the opportunity to succeed.

Guy Ciarrocchi’s opponent, Chrissy Houlahan, chose not to respond.

Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadAndLiberty

One thought on “Congressional Candidate Spotlight: School Choice”

  1. It is telling that none of the Democrat candidates for Congress responded to the question on school choice. This is a meaningful issue that affects voters across the geography of Southeast Pennsylvania. Not addressing such an issue is a slight to the voters.

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