Public education is the foundation of our democracy, and educators believe in a strong, inclusive public school system that ensures all students can succeed, regardless of their ZIP code. Private school vouchers – and similar schemes like tuition tax credits and education savings accounts – take scarce funding away from public schools and give it to private schools that are unaccountable to the public. We should focus on improving public schools, where 90 percent of children go, not on diverting money from them for the sake of the 10 percent who want to go to private schools.
Educators, parents and those who support public schools should expect new challenges in the 115th Congress. President Trump’s initial budget offering was short on details, but it is long on ways to undermine public education. Specifically, the Trump budget adds: $1.4 billion for his privatization agenda, with plans to ramp up to $20 billion over time; $1 billion for Title I portability; $250 million for a new private school voucher program; and a $168 million increase for charter schools. The administration is also is likely to push for the expansion of the only current federally-funded voucher program, now operating in Washington, DC.
At a time when our nation and our state are continuing to face serious budget challenges, it is unthinkable to divert billions of tax dollars to vouchers or similar privatization schemes. We should be investing in our neighborhood public schools so that students have inviting classrooms, a well-rounded curriculum, class sizes that are small enough for one-on-one attention, and support services such as health care, nutrition and after-school programs for students who need them. Let’s invest in what we know works.
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