Beth Ann Rosica: Black pastors call on Shapiro to enact Lifeline Scholarships

Black pastors from across the state held a press conference at the Capitol this week, calling on Governor Shapiro to “courageously lead us beyond the toxic, bipartisan politics and preferences that undermine a quality education for every child in Pennsylvania.”

Led by the Black Pastors United for Education, a network of non-sectarian, bipartisan pastors and congregations, the group’s founder, Reverend Joshua C. Robertson, presented an open letter to the Governor, signed by sixty pastors across the Commonwealth.

The rotunda was filled with pastors, parents, and students for the press conference where Rev. Robertson passionately called on lawmakers to put politics aside and focus on children and their education. 

“Lawmakers should not be beholden to unions, school districts, special interest groups, lobbyists, and beyond. We need lawmakers to put Pennsylvania students at the center of their decision.”

Robertson then read the letter to Governor Shapiro asking him to fully fund public schools, enact Lifeline scholarships for children in the state’s lowest performing schools, and oppose cuts to public cyber charter schools.

The letter details the three requests:

  1. Fully and properly fund our public schools. We want to be part of a robust conversation that includes several groups and results in a multi-year strategy and commitment to properly invest, sustain, and secure funding for our public schools. We recognize the need for high-quality traditional public schools.
  2. Enact Lifeline Scholarships for children in Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing schools. These scholarships open doors, provide access, extend relief, and empower our communities to build schools and education environments that work for our kids.
  3. Oppose cuts to public cyber charter schools. In Pennsylvania, public charter schools and cyber charter schools educate and serve a higher percentage of low-income and non-white students than traditional school districts. Our parents are choosing cyber charter schools as the only free alternative educational option for their children. 

In an interview after the event, Robertson elaborated on the requests in the letter. Specifically on the call for fully funding public schools, he said, “money doesn’t solve everything. We need to change the pedagogy of teaching because it is not currently working for many students.”

He and his coalition want to change the way that schools are teaching to ensure that students are prepared for a career, the military, or college. Robertson wants to be part of a “robust conversation” to address the fact that approximately half of Pennsylvania students are not proficient in reading and math.

Black Pastors United for Education are immediately focused on the students in the lowest performing schools. Robertson said that they “need to stop the bleeding.” He described a recent incident in Harrisburg where a nineteen-year-old pregnant woman was shot and killed. In his words, “education plays a direct role.”

A recent high school graduate spoke at the press conference about the impact of educational freedom in her life. She, too, worried about the violence and bullying in the public school system and thrived in the Rock City Learning Center, run by Reverend Robertson’s church. The young woman is headed to college in the Fall.

Robertson also said that it is imperative that charter school funding is not cut. For families who cannot afford private schools, charter and cyber charter schools are the only affordable option. He acknowledged that the system for funding charter schools may need to be addressed, but the answer is not cutting the funding.  

He challenged public schools to offer an education that parents want.

Almost a year ago, Governor Shapiro declared, “every child of God deserves a quality education.” Despite his sentiments, he yielded his power to veto the Lifeline Scholarships, newly branded as the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS).

Speculations remain whether Shapiro and other Democrats were beholden to the special interest groups that Robertson mentioned.

Now, the governor has another opportunity to fulfill his campaign promises, and more importantly, ensure that every child has access to a quality education regardless of their zip code.

Let’s hope for the sake of our children that Shapiro puts “toxic politics” aside and grants “every child of God a quality education.”

Beth Ann Rosica resides in West Chester, has a Ph.D. in Education, and has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of at-risk children and families. She covers education issues for Broad + Liberty. Contact her at

7 thoughts on “Beth Ann Rosica: Black pastors call on Shapiro to enact Lifeline Scholarships”

  1. Joshua David Shapiro worked as a senior adviser to Senator Robert Torricelli (remember that crum bum?). Shapiro’s mentor was a crum bum. And Shapiro is a massive crum bum. All the nice people voted for Shapiro. They should be ashamed.
    May, 2001, Tampa Bay Times: “FBI agents monitoring a Sarasota pizzeria for organized crime activity recorded Sen. Robert Torricelli on a wiretap discussing fundraising with supporters, including relatives of a prominent Chicago crime figure. The 1996 intercept, weeks before Torricelli was elected to the Senate, surprised the FBI agents, who alerted the Justice Department. Prosecutors reviewed the tape and concluded there was no reason for further investigation, the Associated Press reports, quoting unnamed law enforcement officials. The call received new scrutiny two years later when allegations surfaced of thousands of dollars in illegal straw donations to Torricelli’s campaign, the officials told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

  2. This is an excellent article – per usual. And it deserves focus. I will ask: why is anyone surprised that Shapiro stiffed poor, vulnerable children, yet again? Shapiro is a bad actor.
    All the nicest and respectable and polite people at 1210 AM (Dawn Stensland, Dom Giordano, and RIch Zeoli) ignore that Shapiro Admin is stuffing PA mail-in ballots currently via DMV auto-registration. The voter rolls are getting increased with legal non-residents, and we will watch in November when the mail-in votes tip the scales.
    Remember when Shapiro was a commissioner in Mont Co? He was fake. Joe Gale was authentic. Everyone hated Gale. We reap what we deserve. I don’t expect anything from Dawn and Dom. I thought Rich was authentic.

      1. Jan, 2019: “In Texas, a state investigation found 95,000 non-citizens on the voter rolls, 58,000 of whom had voted in at least one election since 1996.”
        Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday revealed his wife, First Lady Frances Wolf, dropped his mail ballot off for him, a violation of Pennsylvania election law.
        State law currently prohibits, in most cases, anyone other than the voter from returning a mail ballot, an act punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. On the “KDKA Radio Morning Show,” host Kevin Battle asked Wolf if he visited the polls to vote in person during Tuesday’s municipal election.
        “I didn’t show up in person at the polls. We voted a couple weeks ago, actually,” Wolf said. “My wife actually dropped it off personally two weeks ago, so it’s there.”
        Wolf did not say where his wife dropped off his ballot. Elizabeth Rementer, a spokesperson for Wolf, said only “it was an honest mistake.”
        Dung Mastriano: You voted for Shapiro and stuck it to the poorest children. To answer your question, no, I cannot tell you. But you already knew that. Your question was an insincere one, as we both already know. And we both know the voting process in PA is corrupt.

        1. Actually, you can see what they are registering as. It’s public information and they even break it down by county. I believe B&L has even covered it.

          Dems are flailing in registrations behind Republicans and independents.

          Also – Doug mastriano sucks. Shapiro sucks a little less. Don’t assume I voted for either one and don’t blame anyone for having to make the choice between 2 death sentences.

          Your reasonable frustration with politics and the state of the world is something we can agree on. What I can’t agree with is choosing counter productive candidates who further push people away from a solution — ie, Gale isn’t always wrong in his complaints, but everyone can observe the sun rises too. Observing problems doesn’t make him a leader. Articulating a solution in a productive strategy and message is what makes winning candidates. He sucks. Trump sucks. Mastriano sucks. Shapiro sucks.

  3. Yet again Dr.Rosica get it spot on. The foci of education are the students. And competition evokes the best performances.

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