March 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A coalition of public education advocates has sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee to condemn a proposed bill that would allow for federally funded school vouchers.

The National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE), an alliance of civil rights, religious and advocacy organizations, said the “Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act” would provide taxpayer funding of “scholarships” for “private entities,” a euphemism for private school vouchers.

“Instead of providing equal access to high quality education or setting high standards and accountability, voucher programs have proven ineffective, lack accountability to taxpayers and deprive students of rights provided to public school students,” said the letter, which was signed by 53 groups, including Americans United.

NCPE went on to assert that “vouchers do not improve student education,” citing studies on the Washington, D.C., Cleveland and Milwaukee voucher programs that found students who used vouchers performed no better in reading and math than did their public school peers.

“Most voucher programs are plagued by accountability problems,” the letter said, “as they do not have to adhere to the same standards set for public schools.”   

The proposed bill is draft legislation introduced by Republicans on the House education panel; it currently does not have a bill number and may be changed before being formally introduced.