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.