Nearly 20 years ago, Betsy DeVos and her husband were the primary funders of an effort to strip the Michigan Constitution’s no-aid clause – the provision that ensures the government doesn’t funnel taxpayer dollars to religious institutions, including private religious schools. Their goal: remove the constitutional barrier to implementation of a private school voucher program.
Texas is one of the more conservative states in the country. Over the years, Lone Star State legislators have cooked up some pretty bad church-state legislation.
Voucher legislation is common in the Texas legislature, but even in this redder than red state, the bills usually fail to gain traction. This year’s session has given us a new twist: the lieutenant governor’s hard push for vouchers prompted the House to pass a proposal to bar the funding of private school vouchers.
As this issue of Church & State was going to press, President Donald J. Trump released a federal budget that includes a $250 million school voucher plan.
The National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE), a collection of organizations that support public education and that is co-chaired by Americans United, strongly opposed the proposal.
By law, the president must present a budget to Congress every year. In a president’s inaugural year, that budget contains less detail than in other years, and it’s often referred to as a “skinny budget.”
Americans United joined a band of allies through the National Coalition for Public Education to push back against the private-school voucher schemes that are promoted during National School Choice Week.
The New York Times recently ran a story about researchers being surprised by the “dismal” results school voucher programs have so far produced.
As The Times notes, “[A] wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling – the worst in the history of the field, researchers say.”
Yesterday marked the start of School Choice Week, an event conjured up by the forces that want to divert as much money as possible from the public school system to private (mostly religious) institutions.
The Senate confirmation hearing of education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos has been postponed until Jan. 17. This is for the best. DeVos is a controversial appointee who hasn’t even completed her ethics review, and there’s no need to fast-track her nomination.
Yesterday marked the start of “National School Choice Week.” Although some of the groups and individuals behind this annual event are interested in things like charter schools and public school choice, it’s mainly a vehicle for promoting private school voucher plans.
Vouchers, of course, aren’t really about choice. Oh, there’s choice, all right – for the schools. They get to decide which students they will admit. They get to decide what to teach them. They get to decide who will teach there. They get to decide if they want to impose theology onto students.