Tag Archives: School Vouchers

Oppose Harmful Vouchers Legislation in Congress

During School Choice Week in January, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced two bills that would transform the public education system as we know it. By privatizing a majority of funds for public schools, The Scholarships for Kids Act (S. 1968/H.R. 4000) and The Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act (S. 1909) (or the “CHOICE Act”) would together turn a significant amount of federal education funds into vouchers.

Read more…

voucher editorial cartoon

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

The fight to increase school voucher programs has recently resurfaced. We’ve seen more discussions in the last few weeks in courts, state legislatures and even Congress. Although there are setbacks, for the most part we are fortunately seeing the facts win out—the evidence that not only do vouchers threaten religious liberty, but they are ineffective from an educational standpoint as well.

Read more…

School Vouchers: The Next Education Frontier?

School vouchers can be a tricky issue: the Supreme Court ruled that indirect voucher programs that put money in the hands of parents  are constitutional, but that direct government funding of private, and often religious schools, is not acceptable.  So if government voucher funds are given to parents who then use them to pay for the private school of their choosing, the funds can end up at Jewish day schools, Catholic high schools, Islamic institutions, or secular schools. This concept seems lost on one Louisiana state legislator, who enthusiastically supported Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program until she discovered that the ability of parents to use funds at “religious” school does not by definition mean Christian schools. Once she discovered that funds could be used at Islamic schools in particular, she changed her position and opposed the program. Read more…

President Obama Cuts Deal on D.C. Vouchers—Again

 

It was reported yesterday afternoon that President Obama has made a deal with Congressional leadership to continue funding the D.C. voucher program. In his fiscal year 2013 budget, President Obama asked for no new funding of the program, but the recently announced deal represents an about-face: Not only will the deal continue the program for another year, but it will also increase enrollment by about 85 students and expedite the approval of children into the program. The program, created in 2004 by Congress, is the only federally directed voucher program in the nation.  Many students in the D.C. voucher program spend the funds they receive at parochial schools, which, to many advocates—including the Reform Movement—constitutes an obvious violation of church-state separation protected by the First Amendment. Read more…

Congress Extends D.C. Voucher Program

Last year, the Republican leadership was able to secure the continuation of funding for the D.C. voucher program as part of the budget deal.  While President Obama publicly opposed school vouchers, he ultimately signed the legislation that continued the D.C. program.  In a move meant to strengthen America’s public school system and to reassert his opposition to vouchers, President Obama’s budget proposal for 2013 includes no new funding for the D.C. voucher program.  But the House of Representatives took President Obama’s budget proposal and virtually ignored it.

This week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and Government marked up the 2013 Financial Services Appropriations bill. Buried in over 150 pages of numbers and legislative jargon was $60 million for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, the only voucher program administered by the federal program. Read more…

Too Much Faith in Public Life?

Across the nation, the role that religion and personal faith play in America’s history and in our elections has become front-page news.  A new report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that over a third of Americans (38%) think there has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders while 30% of Americans believe there has been too little. By comparison, when the same question was posed in 2001, only 12% thought there was too much religious expression from political leaders and 22% thought there was too little.

The campaign trail is not the only forum where religion and politics have collided recently.  Florida has attracted much attention: With a ballot initiative that would fund religious institutions with taxpayer dollars and the ink drying on a law regarding the ability of students to pray in public schools, how could it not be? Read more…

Voucher Case Headed to Indiana Supreme Court

Last year, the Indiana General Assembly passed a voucher program that would allow low-income families to receive state taxpayer money to pay tuition costs should their child transfer from public to private school.  In January of this year, a trial court in Indiana upheld the constitutionality of the Choice Scholarship Program and stated that because the money is given to parents, who choose where to send their children, the state is not directly funding religious schools.

This past week, the Indiana Supreme Court granted a direct appeal in the case. In deciding that the case could skip the Indiana Court of Appeals and proceed directly to the highest court in Indiana, the state Supreme Court may have indicated that it felt it would end up considering the case regardless of the appeals court outcome. The plaintiffs allege that the program violates the state constitution’s ban on the use of taxpayer funds for religious institutions and that the program strips crucial resources from public schools.

Read more…

President Obama Proposes End to D.C. Voucher Program

The only voucher program under the purview of the federal government is set to shrink should President Obama’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 become law.  The District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program was created in 2004 and continued to function until 2009, at which point Congress voted to begin phasing out the program. However, President Obama agreed to revive the program in April 2011 as part of a deal with Congressional Republicans to avoid a government shutdown.  Currently, 1,600 students living in Washington, D.C., receive $8,000 annually to help afford private elementary and middle school tuition and up to $12,000 a year for private high school.

Read more…

<