Speak Out For Public Education During National School Choice Week

Student in Classroom

Speak out for public education and contact your Senator today!

This week is National School Choice Week, which misleads parents and the public by promoting private school vouchers as the panacea to improving education in America. As part of this effort, on Tuesday, January 28th, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Scholarships for Kids Act, S.1968.

The Scholarships for Kids Act would essentially take $24 billion, or 41 percent, from current federal funding for public education, and divert it to states allowing them to create $2,100 scholarships for low-income children to attend a public or private school of their choice. The legislation would consolidate more than 80 federal education programs, including Title I, the School Leadership program, the Enhancing Education through Technology program, and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, into a single funding stream states could use for vouchers.  Also, states that opt to participate would not have to comply with most of the requirements of ESEA.

Also on January 28th, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE), S. 1909, which also promotes the proliferation of vouchers. CHOICE redirects $11 billion of funding from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) program, and allows certain students to use the funding to attend a private school. The CHOICE Act also would create a pilot school choice program for students living on military bases, and would expand the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program for students living in the District of Columbia.

Both of these pieces of legislation would strip public schools, especially those serving low-income communities and students with disabilities, of precious federal funding, and then would not hold those private schools receiving the funding to the same standards.

Despite the false claims of voucher proponents, they simply do not provide equal access to high quality education or set high standards and accountability. Moreover, repeated studies show they are ineffective, lack accountability to taxpayers and strip students of rights otherwise provided in public school.

While we do not expect either bill to move in the Senate this session, they galvanize voucher proponents to weigh in with their members of Congress. And, if the Senate changes hands to a republican majority after the next elections, surely the legislation will be brought up with better chances. We also expect similar school choice to be introduced in the House.

NOW is the time to make your voice heard. Contact your Senator and let them know that you oppose the Scholarships for Kids Act, S.1968 and the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE), S. 1909.