In this article, Jeff Bryant explains why vouchers are a terrible idea. After a quarter century of vouchers in Milwaukee, there is no evidence that students in voucher schools get higher test scores. But worse, most students who get vouchers use them in religious schools, violating the long established principle of separation of church and state.

 

Bryant writes:

 

“All research shows that most of the money voucher programs redirect from public schools to private institutions ends up going to religious schools. In D.C., 80 percent of voucher users attend religion-based private schools. North Carolina’s relatively new voucher program sends 93 percent of it money to “faith-based schools.”

 

“Due to voucher programs, in all their forms, “religious schools actually are receiving large amounts of government money,” David Berliner and Gene Glass explain in their book Myths & Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools.

 

“Berliner and Glass explain how, through various workarounds approved by ideologically driven courts, many states have reversed historical precedent to ensure the public is unwittingly funding religious-based instruction. In Arizona, a tuition tax credit program ensures that people and corporations who donate to a fund for private, mostly religious, schools can take that donation off their taxes, which decreases the amount of money the state has to spend on public services. In Ohio, government funds pay directly for parents’ tuition payments in private schools, most of which are religion-based. In New Jersey, the governor enjoys a special set-aside of $11 million for two religious schools in the state.

 

“In most of these cases, the majority of the students receiving voucher money were already previously enrolled in religious schools. So much for “opening promising new pathways” in the public school system.

 

“Voucher programs that redirect money to private religious schools are in clear violation of the federal Constitution’s establishment clause and state constitutions’ Blaine Amendment language, but the programs continue to proliferate and expand nevertheless.

 

“This Should Alarm Every American

 

“As Berliner and Glass explain, “Diversion of existing public schools resources to private schools results in taxpayer support for all kinds of religious instruction at all kinds of religious schools, with little or no oversight by states or the public.”

 

“That means public tax dollars are funding religion based curriculum that teach, for instance, a creationist view of science or a version of history that portrays slaves as happy servants to their masters.

 

“Curriculum materials that depict people of color in demeaning, stereotypical ways that have created such consternation in public schools can be readily adopted for private schools using vouchers. And how many schools getting voucher funding will choose a right-wing version of history that teaches the founders of the nation never intended the separation of church and state but sought instead to construct a Christian theocracy?

 

“Voucher proponents claim all of this is fine because parents have “made the choice.” But shouldn’t we have a choice about whether or not we fund this?”