ThinkFest Preview: Jeffrey Yass on School Choice

The stock trader argues that school vouchers could "drastically" reduce poverty in Philadelphia.

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Jeffrey Yass may be best known in Philadelphia as the suburban stock trader who, along with his two business partners, donated heavily to a pro-Tony Williams super PAC in the 2015 mayoral race.

At the time, the three Susquehanna International Group execs were pretty press-shy, but explained to a handful of journalists that they spent millions on the election for one reason and one reason only: “school choice.” Williams, a Democrat, is one of the most charter-friendly politicians in Pennsylvania.

Now, Yass will make his case for school vouchers publicly at Philadelphia magazine’s ThinkFest, an event showcasing ideas from around the region.

“I will be talking about how school choice could dramatically reduce poverty in Philadelphia,” he explains. “District schools cost $16,000 per student. We could allow the parents to choose a charter school, private [school] or parochial school with a $10,000 voucher. They can choose to stay in their district school if they choose. If not, they would have $10,000 to spend on the school of their choice, plus receive an additional $6,000 per year so they are no longer poor.”

Vouchers are a controversial topic, and the Philadelphia teachers union vehemently opposes them. Asked if he will address critics’ argument that vouchers would lead to the closure of some—if not most—district schools, Yass tells us, “Yes, I will. That’s an important point.”

Recently, Yass has been in the news for refusing to give money to Donald Trump. He has donated millions to Republican and Democratic candidates in the past, but now says he is “rooting” for Gary Johnson.

Join us on November 15th at the Convention Center for this one-day event where Philly’s smartest people share their biggest ideas. Check out the full lineup of speakers and get your tickets today.

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