Subscribe to RSS - School Vouchers & Government Subsidies of Religious Schools

Americans United opposes private school vouchers because they are a threat to public education and religious freedom.

Vouchers—whether disguised as a scholarship, tuition tax credit or an education savings account—primarily fund religious schools. This violates the fundamental principle that taxpayer funds should never pay for religious education.

In addition, vouchers don’t work: they don’t improve educational outcomes, they lack accountability and oversight, and they fund schools that discriminate. They don’t give parents a “choice,” but instead allow private schools to pick and choose students. And, at the same time, they divert public dollars from public schools.


LEARN MORE ABOUT VOUCHERS:

Types of Vouchers

State Legislation

Federal Legislation

Litigation

Talking Points

VoucherFail Tumblr

Read Blog Posts and More


Types of Vouchers


A Voucher By Any Other Name… Across the country lawmakers are introducing private school voucher bills that are disguised as something else. Although they may call them scholarships, tuition tax credits, education savings accounts, or portability provisions, these proposals are all really just private school voucher schemes. They all undermine public schools and divert money away from public schools to help private and religious schools.

  • Vouchers

A voucher (sometimes called a “scholarship”) is a handout of taxpayer dollars for private school tuition: The government writes a check sending taxpayer money to a private school.  

  • Tuition Tax Credits (TTCs)

TTCs are backdoor vouchers.  Under this scheme, individuals or corporations receive a tax credit in exchange for giving money to an intermediary organization, often called a “scholarship organization.” Then, the “scholarship organization” writes a check for tuition at a private school. In short, rather than collecting taxes and then giving a portion to a private school (a voucher), the government forgoes those tax dollars so long as they go to a private school (a TTC). The end is the same—money funneled to private schools and away from public schools.

  • Education Savings Accounts or Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs)

ESAs, like TTCs, are backdoor vouchers. Under the typical ESA proposal, when parents decide to send their children to private schools, withdrawing from public school, the state writes a check from the money allocated for educating those children in public school to an “education savings account.” Parents then use that taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition and thus taxpayer funds “follow the child” even when the child is not attending public school.

  • Title I Portability

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is designed to provide extra funding to public schools serving students in areas with high concentrations of poverty. Title I “portability” are proposals to dismantle the existing program and turn it into a private school voucher: the money to help these public schools would instead “follow the child” to private schools. Some schemes would—initially—“follow the child” only to public schools, but even those programs would dilute the power of the funds and reduce their effectiveness. 

BACK TO TOP


State Legislation


Americans United has been fighting state legislation that would create or expand private school voucher and voucher-like programs for decades. Each year we oppose dozens of bills that would create vouchers, education savings accounts and tuition tax credits.


Federal Legislation
 

Americans United is a leader in the fight against federally funded private school voucher programs and serves as a co-chair of the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE). NCPE is a coalition of more than 50 national organizations that support public schools and oppose private school vouchers. The coalition believes that public funds should go to public schools.

We have successfully fought nearly every attempt by Congress to create voucher programs. For example, in 2015, when Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is the law that governs the federally funded programs for K-12 education, we fought off several provisions that would have created federal voucher and voucher-like programs.

Nonetheless, over a decade ago, Congress forced the creation of a voucher program for the District of Columbia, which is the only federally funded voucher program in the country. Congress has continued to reauthorize it despite its clear failures—including four U.S. Department of Education studies showing that it does not improve academic achievement. We will continue to fight this program and point out its shortfalls.

BACK TO TOP


Litigation

 

Duncan v. Nevada

Nevada’s voucher program is the most extensive in the country, authorizing any child who has attended a Nevada public school for 100 days to receive a voucher that is worth approximately $5,000 and that is drawn from the state’s public-school account. Once their child has a voucher, parents can then use voucher funding to purchase religious education at religious private schools. Americans United, along with allied organizations, filed suit on behalf of several Nevada taxpayers who objected to this use of their tax money. We challenged the voucher law under the Nevada Constitution, which forbids using public money for a sectarian purpose.

 

Larue v. Douglas County School District

The Douglas County voucher program authorized 500 students to use state, per-pupil education funds, which had been earmarked for the public-school system, as vouchers to attend private religious schools. In 2011, Americans United filed a lawsuit on behalf of Colorado taxpayers to challenge the voucher program. In June 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in our favor, holding that the program violates a provision of the Colorado Constitution that forbids using taxpayer funds to finance religious schools.

 

McCall v. Scott

Although the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s school-voucher program in 2006, the Florida legislature has also enacted a tax-credit program that accomplishes essentially the same ends: use public dollars to finance education at religious private schools. In 2014, Americans United filed suit against the tax-credit program, arguing that it violates provisions of the Florida constitution pertaining to public education and the funding of religion.

 

BACK TO TOP


Read More About Vouchers:

Horizontal Tabs

Most Recent
Blogs
Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

In Their Responses To Charlottesville, Trump And His Religious Right Allies Failed A Simple Moral Test

Religious Right groups have argued for a long time that a president has to do more than oversee the economy, direct international relations and run the Executive branch. He or she is also expected to set a moral example. During the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Religious Right groups frequently complained – unfairly, in the view of many Americans – that these two men had failed in that regard.

Donald Trump And Roy Moore Launch A New Raft Of Spurious, Anti-Muslim Claims

It’s been a week of pants-on-fire-level, anti-Muslim rhetoric: Days after a U.S. Senate candidate made ridiculous claims about Sharia law being implemented in the American heartland, President Donald J. Trump recirculated a widely discredited trope about brutal war-time treatment of Muslims.

Both claims earned the top “Pants on Fire” rating from the fact-checking website PolitiFact. And both claims only served to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment as the country is still reeling from the hate-filled events in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

For Some Reason, The Religious Right Is Looking For A Boost From The Eclipse

One of the most discouraging things about many fundamentalist Christians these days is their utter repudiation of science. It’s not that they can’t understand it – they choose not to try. Furthermore, they often heap disdain upon it.

More Than 4,000 Faith Leaders Send A Message To Congress: Protect The Johnson Amendment

Today more than 4,000 faith leaders from a diverse background of religious traditions and from all 50 states and the District of Columbia came together to support the Johnson Amendment. They signed a letter, which was delivered this morning, calling on members of Congress to resist any attempts to undermine current law.

If Trump Really Wants To Fight Xenophobic Extremists, He Can Start By Cleaning Up His Own House

President Donald J. Trump finally called racist violence “evil” yesterday – but only after he came under significant public pressure for refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-Nazis after the violence that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The Alt-Right And The Religious Right Stand In Opposition To America’s Tradition Of Religious Freedom

This weekend, extremely disturbing images emerged from Charlottesville, Va. When we have actual fascists marching in our streets, spreading hate, waving Nazi flags and screaming slogans of rage aimed our neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers, disengagement is not an option. Decent Americans are morally compelled to respond – not with violence but with pledges to support and protect the communities under attack and through reminders to our nation and the world that we are better than this.

There’s A Right Way To Teach About Religion In Public Schools – Be Inclusive

The Tennessee State Board of Education recently took a big step to making their state’s public education curriculum more inclusive. The state’s new social studies standards for the first time ever includes educating students about Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion and the only major faith not previously included in the curriculum.

Wyoming Judge Asks Supreme Court For Permission To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples

A Wyoming judge has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether she has the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.

Represented by the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, Judge Ruth Neely this month filed a petition asking the high court to review her case after the Wyoming Supreme Court publicly censured her earlier this year.

A Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Says It Would Be Biblical To Attack North Korea. That Should Concern Us.

Just in case you were in need of more reasons to have trouble sleeping at night, consider this: The North Koreans are saber-rattling over nuclear weapons, and one of the men advising President Donald J. Trump on the matter is a Christian fundamentalist pastor who believes the biblical book of Romans gives Trump the authority to “take out” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A Minn. Mosque Was Bombed, And The Trump Administration Remains Mum

Over the weekend, a makeshift bomb was thrown into a Minnesota mosque in what many activists are calling the latest hate crime against the Muslim American community. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), along with other state officials, visited the Bloomington mosque and was quick to call the attack “a criminal act of terrorism,” but on the federal level, President Donald J. Trump remains mum.

Pages

Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

In Their Responses To Charlottesville, Trump And His Religious Right Allies Failed A Simple Moral Test

Religious Right groups have argued for a long time that a president has to do more than oversee the economy, direct international relations and run the Executive branch. He or she is also expected to set a moral example. During the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Religious Right groups frequently complained – unfairly, in the view of many Americans – that these two men had failed in that regard.

Donald Trump And Roy Moore Launch A New Raft Of Spurious, Anti-Muslim Claims

It’s been a week of pants-on-fire-level, anti-Muslim rhetoric: Days after a U.S. Senate candidate made ridiculous claims about Sharia law being implemented in the American heartland, President Donald J. Trump recirculated a widely discredited trope about brutal war-time treatment of Muslims.

Both claims earned the top “Pants on Fire” rating from the fact-checking website PolitiFact. And both claims only served to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment as the country is still reeling from the hate-filled events in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

For Some Reason, The Religious Right Is Looking For A Boost From The Eclipse

One of the most discouraging things about many fundamentalist Christians these days is their utter repudiation of science. It’s not that they can’t understand it – they choose not to try. Furthermore, they often heap disdain upon it.

More Than 4,000 Faith Leaders Send A Message To Congress: Protect The Johnson Amendment

Today more than 4,000 faith leaders from a diverse background of religious traditions and from all 50 states and the District of Columbia came together to support the Johnson Amendment. They signed a letter, which was delivered this morning, calling on members of Congress to resist any attempts to undermine current law.

If Trump Really Wants To Fight Xenophobic Extremists, He Can Start By Cleaning Up His Own House

President Donald J. Trump finally called racist violence “evil” yesterday – but only after he came under significant public pressure for refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-Nazis after the violence that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The Alt-Right And The Religious Right Stand In Opposition To America’s Tradition Of Religious Freedom

This weekend, extremely disturbing images emerged from Charlottesville, Va. When we have actual fascists marching in our streets, spreading hate, waving Nazi flags and screaming slogans of rage aimed our neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers, disengagement is not an option. Decent Americans are morally compelled to respond – not with violence but with pledges to support and protect the communities under attack and through reminders to our nation and the world that we are better than this.

There’s A Right Way To Teach About Religion In Public Schools – Be Inclusive

The Tennessee State Board of Education recently took a big step to making their state’s public education curriculum more inclusive. The state’s new social studies standards for the first time ever includes educating students about Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion and the only major faith not previously included in the curriculum.

Wyoming Judge Asks Supreme Court For Permission To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples

A Wyoming judge has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether she has the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.

Represented by the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, Judge Ruth Neely this month filed a petition asking the high court to review her case after the Wyoming Supreme Court publicly censured her earlier this year.

A Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Says It Would Be Biblical To Attack North Korea. That Should Concern Us.

Just in case you were in need of more reasons to have trouble sleeping at night, consider this: The North Koreans are saber-rattling over nuclear weapons, and one of the men advising President Donald J. Trump on the matter is a Christian fundamentalist pastor who believes the biblical book of Romans gives Trump the authority to “take out” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A Minn. Mosque Was Bombed, And The Trump Administration Remains Mum

Over the weekend, a makeshift bomb was thrown into a Minnesota mosque in what many activists are calling the latest hate crime against the Muslim American community. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), along with other state officials, visited the Bloomington mosque and was quick to call the attack “a criminal act of terrorism,” but on the federal level, President Donald J. Trump remains mum.

Pages

Most Recent Blog Posts
All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

In Their Responses To Charlottesville, Trump And His Religious Right Allies Failed A Simple Moral Test

Religious Right groups have argued for a long time that a president has to do more than oversee the economy, direct international relations and run the Executive branch. He or she is also expected to set a moral example. During the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Religious Right groups frequently complained – unfairly, in the view of many Americans – that these two men had failed in that regard.

Donald Trump And Roy Moore Launch A New Raft Of Spurious, Anti-Muslim Claims

It’s been a week of pants-on-fire-level, anti-Muslim rhetoric: Days after a U.S. Senate candidate made ridiculous claims about Sharia law being implemented in the American heartland, President Donald J. Trump recirculated a widely discredited trope about brutal war-time treatment of Muslims.

Both claims earned the top “Pants on Fire” rating from the fact-checking website PolitiFact. And both claims only served to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment as the country is still reeling from the hate-filled events in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

For Some Reason, The Religious Right Is Looking For A Boost From The Eclipse

One of the most discouraging things about many fundamentalist Christians these days is their utter repudiation of science. It’s not that they can’t understand it – they choose not to try. Furthermore, they often heap disdain upon it.

More Than 4,000 Faith Leaders Send A Message To Congress: Protect The Johnson Amendment

Today more than 4,000 faith leaders from a diverse background of religious traditions and from all 50 states and the District of Columbia came together to support the Johnson Amendment. They signed a letter, which was delivered this morning, calling on members of Congress to resist any attempts to undermine current law.

If Trump Really Wants To Fight Xenophobic Extremists, He Can Start By Cleaning Up His Own House

President Donald J. Trump finally called racist violence “evil” yesterday – but only after he came under significant public pressure for refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-Nazis after the violence that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The Alt-Right And The Religious Right Stand In Opposition To America’s Tradition Of Religious Freedom

This weekend, extremely disturbing images emerged from Charlottesville, Va. When we have actual fascists marching in our streets, spreading hate, waving Nazi flags and screaming slogans of rage aimed our neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers, disengagement is not an option. Decent Americans are morally compelled to respond – not with violence but with pledges to support and protect the communities under attack and through reminders to our nation and the world that we are better than this.

There’s A Right Way To Teach About Religion In Public Schools – Be Inclusive

The Tennessee State Board of Education recently took a big step to making their state’s public education curriculum more inclusive. The state’s new social studies standards for the first time ever includes educating students about Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion and the only major faith not previously included in the curriculum.

Wyoming Judge Asks Supreme Court For Permission To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples

A Wyoming judge has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether she has the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.

Represented by the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, Judge Ruth Neely this month filed a petition asking the high court to review her case after the Wyoming Supreme Court publicly censured her earlier this year.

A Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Says It Would Be Biblical To Attack North Korea. That Should Concern Us.

Just in case you were in need of more reasons to have trouble sleeping at night, consider this: The North Koreans are saber-rattling over nuclear weapons, and one of the men advising President Donald J. Trump on the matter is a Christian fundamentalist pastor who believes the biblical book of Romans gives Trump the authority to “take out” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A Minn. Mosque Was Bombed, And The Trump Administration Remains Mum

Over the weekend, a makeshift bomb was thrown into a Minnesota mosque in what many activists are calling the latest hate crime against the Muslim American community. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), along with other state officials, visited the Bloomington mosque and was quick to call the attack “a criminal act of terrorism,” but on the federal level, President Donald J. Trump remains mum.

Pages

Press Releases
Church & State
July/August 2017 Church & State

Trump's Voucher Onslaught

Trump And DeVos Push Private School Tax Aid Scheme, But The Details Of Their Plan Remain Vague

May 2017 Church & State

Save Our Schools!

Americans Oppose Trump-DeVos Plans To ‘Voucherize’ Education

March 2017 Church & State

States Of Emergency

Legislation That Threatens Church-State Separation Is Pending In Half The Country

March 2017 Church & State

Bad Choice

Mich. Billionaire Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos Takes Charge At The U.S. Department Of Education