President Donald Trump called for one of his favorite policies, school choice, during his address before a joint session of Congress earlier this week. He specifically urged lawmakers, notes Kristina Rizga, to “pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them.”
“Democrats don’t like vouchers. Republicans don’t like federal programs, and would rather leave major school reform decisions up to states and local communities.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has also been promoting school choice, pointing to the state of Florida as “a good and growing example of what can happen when you have a robust array of choices,” DeVos pushed the school choice model again, says Rizga, during her speech to the leaders of historically black colleges this week.
What they are not telling us is that Republicans in Congress would use federal taxpayer dollars, in the form of vouchers, to help families pay for religious schools, Rizga notes. In addition, many state constitutions have “Blaine Amendments, which prohibit spending public dollars on religious schools. And notably, only 31 percent of Americans support vouchers.”
A 2016 study, funded by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation and conducted by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found that students who used vouchers in a large Ohio program “have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” reports Mother Jones.
What’s worse? This pushing through of various voucher schemes comes when we finally have definitive data on the outcomes of these programs—data showing that they “are the worst in the history of the field.”