After listening to parents and educators, lawmakers reject private school vouchers.

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by Brian Washington

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who’s never worked or served in a public school and who’s only qualification for her new post is that she gave lots of money to politicians who support the corporate takeover of public education, continues to travel the country touting failed education policies like private school vouchers.

Earlier this week, DeVos proved once again she’s unqualified to hold her position when she traveled to Utah, where she compared students using private school vouchers, which drain hundreds of millions of dollars away from public schools, to cell phone customers switching carriers. Crazy, right?

DeVos and politicians like her want you to believe that privatizing public education will benefit students. But educators, parents, voters and lawmakers are not buying it, especially since the list of states and communities rejecting vouchers appears to be growing.

Here’s a quick download of three recent wins against vouchers—also referred to as tuition tax credits or education savings accounts.

  • In the Texas Legislature, a bi-partisan coalition of lawmakers representing rural areas helped kill voucher legislation in the State House. As one conservative lawmaker put it, “I believe that anything that pulls anything away from the public school system rather than improving it is not a good policy.”
  • In Tennessee, a voucher bill aimed at Shelby County has run out of steam in the House. The bill, if approved, would divert about $18 million from county schools. Educators and local school board members stressed to lawmakers that parents had other educational options within the public school system. Lawmakers listened and put the bill off until next year. According to one county school board member, “Parents know that they have great choices in Shelby County and I think that was the message that resonated in Nashville.”
  • A tuition tax credit bill was voted down in the Arkansas House last month on a 46 to 39 vote. The bill would have given a tax credit to people and businesses that donate to non-profit organizations that fund private school vouchers. Opposition to the bill was bipartisan. One Republican lawmaker said that public money should be used for public schools because public schools “don’t cherry pick their students.” A similar voucher billed failed earlier in the session.

TAKE ACTION: Educators know the best way to ensure our students’ futures is to invest in public education. President Trump and Betsy DeVos are backing a budget proposal that includes $250 million for a national private school voucher program, even though studies show public schools outperform private schools. Tell Capitol Hill lawmakers to reject the Trump-DeVos budget plan and oppose private school vouchers.

Reader Comments

  1. Another money maker for the wealthy in our country. They are selling out the public school students for their own greed. Betsy Devos has no business being in control of our education system, with absolutely zero qualifications.

  2. Separate school vouchers deplete public school budgets and change the curriculum for general education needed by all young Americans. Truly, Charlene Knowlton, college instructor

  3. Please explain to me that taking public tax payer money away from public schools so parents can send their kids to a private or religious school is going to improve the outcomes of public education with less funding? How are public schools with less money improve through competition with vouchers and funding to for profit charter schools? This becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and policy to abolish public schools. The so called “conservatives” don’t believe public schools or any government entity works. The say if it ain’t in the Constitution, we can’t have it being supported by taxpayer money. They don’t want to pay for other people’s children’s education. They believe in taking “personal responsibility” for their children’s education, but is okay to privitize prisons and pay for that with taxpayer money, since government run institutions can never be run right, only private, for profit entities can be run well, never the government.

  4. Those who choose to have a “private” education can continue to pay for this out of their own pockets. Tax payer monies are intended to support public education, not to support corporate schools who have little or no oversight.

  5. I am a retired public school nurse/health teacher. I am adamantly opposed to school vouchers for education. Private and many charter schools have the option of accepting or rejecting students as they please. Public schools have no ability to do that. I have no issue with parents being able to send their kids to a school of their choice, but they should not receive taxpayer dollars to send them to private schools. Just because I would like to own a million dollar mansion, does not mean that I can do that if I cannot afford it. Betsy Devos is unfit to be the director of our educational system and she was an embarrassment to all educators during her confirmation hearings and during her recent commencement address. We need to use ALL of our education money to improve our public school system and support our wonderful public school educators. Parents: send your kids to private schools if you wish (many of them are excellent) but not at the expense of our public schools (many of them are also excellent). Then use our tax dollars to improve those that are not.

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