Purpose, Policy, Politics and Power: Analysis of the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program
My dissertation policy analysis of the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program revealed a fundamental disconnect between the policy claims and the experienced reality. From its 2001 inception, the policy language and legislative rhetoric claim that the EITC is intended to improve education for all children. However, the law prohibits the collection of data regarding educational achievement. This prohibition resides at the root of the disconnect, because no measures of educational attainment exist within the law despite its title.
Companies contribute money for underprivileged kids to get a better education, but this study found no evidence that kids are getting a better education. Taxpayers and companies may think they are helping poor kids but little evidence exists to suggest that funds are reaching this population. Funds are actually diverted from this purpose - intentionally. Children are hurt because not only are they not able to switch to better schools, the schools they are in are not targeted for improvement and are not receiving these funds. Analyses suggest that this program increases rather than decreases the wealth and education gaps in Pennsylvania.