Tell Your U.S. Representative: Reject Reauthorization of D.C. Voucher Program
March 21, 2017
The U.S. House of Representatives may soon vote on a bill to reauthorize the school voucher program in Washington, D.C. — and the Center for Inquiry (CFI) needs your help to prevent its passage.
The D.C. school voucher program is the only federally funded voucher scheme. It was approved in 2003, despite the fact that D.C. council members strongly oppose the program. A measure (the “SOAR Act”) to reauthorize the program for five years, as well as expand the pool of recipients, narrowly passed a House committee earlier this month. Several amendments to protect the rights of LGBTQ and disabled students participating in the program were rejected.
As explained in a National Coalition for Public Education letter to the House committee leadership, there are many reasons to oppose the D.C. voucher program:
— It violates the separation of church and state. Approximately 80 percent of the students who participate in the D.C. voucher program attend religious schools. Parents certainly have the right to choose religious education for their children, but taxpayers should not be required to pay for another’s religious education.
— It fails to improve education. Four separate studies by the Department of Education have found that the D.C. school voucher program does not necessarily improve academic achievement.
— It is unfair and unaccountable. Investigations have shown that D.C. private and religious schools that receive voucher funds do not provide the same rights, protections, and educational opportunities to students as public schools, including students with disabilities.
We at CFI believe that our children are better served by using public funds to make public schools stronger. Instead of supporting private and sectarian religious schools through vouchers, taxpayer money should be used to support and improve our shared public school system, which provides a religiously neutral, constitutionally sound, and evidence-based education for all students.
The Center for Inquiry urges you to use our pre-written form to write your U.S. representative and urge them to oppose the failed, unconstitutional, and unaccountable D.C. school voucher program. We also urge you to follow up by calling your U.S. represenative to reiterate your concerns. The Capitol switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121, and all you need is your zip code to be connected to your representative’s office.