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(RNS) — In his newly released federal budget, President Trump calls for funneling $1 billion in taxpayer funds into private school voucher programs. It’s a bad idea for several reasons.
First, public money should fund public schools, which serve 90 percent of American students. Public schools are a unifying factor in our diverse country and their doors are open to all students, regardless of their religion. Private schools, however, serve only a few, select students.
Vouchers - Studies - Students - Schools - Vouchers
Vouchers also don’t work. Numerous studies have shown that students attending private schools with vouchers don’t do better academically — and sometimes do worse — than their peers. Voucher programs also often fund unaccredited, poor-quality schools that take in a lot of taxpayer money but offer little education in return. In some cases, voucher schools — most frequently it is the lowest-quality schools — are almost entirely funded by taxpayer-funded vouchers.
Private schools that accept vouchers also don’t provide the same civil rights protections that public schools are required to provide. As a result, voucher programs systematically exclude students with disabilities and voucher schools frequently teach anti-LGBTQ curriculum and have anti-LGBTQ admission policies. This discrimination is paid for with taxpayer dollars.
Vouchers - Core - Freedom - Vouchers - Schools
All of this is bad enough, but vouchers, at their core, violate religious freedom. Vouchers primarily fund private religious schools. That means they take taxpayer money collected from everyone and use it to pay for the religious education of a few. No one should be compelled to fund the religious education of another.
Houses of worship often see religious education as an extension of their ministry. Private religious schools, therefore, exist to teach and promote the faith of the...
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