March 2013 Church & State | AU Bulletin

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said recently that he plans to advocate for a new federal school voucher program.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Cantor said he wants to “create some type of competitive mechanisms” for education, but did not offer any specifics for his plan.

According to The New York Times, Cantor characterized the proposal as a way to help gifted children of struggling single mothers living in poverty get away from under-performing schools.

Cantor followed up those January remarks with a visit Feb. 4 to the Preparatory School of D.C., a private religious school that accepts voucher students.

During a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington the following day, Cantor praised that school and said “one of our priorities this year will be to move heaven and Earth to fix our education system for the most vulnerable” and to “expand choices” for all students. 

Cantor seems to be following in the footsteps of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who has been a major backer of the federally funded voucher program in the District of Columbia. The scheme, which allows children to use taxpayer money to attend religious and other private schools, has been in place since 2004.

Americans United and other critics of vouchers say the D.C. program has been a failure. According to the AU Legislative Department, it forces taxpayers to subsidize religious indoctrination and discrimination, diverts attention from improvements at public schools and has failed to raise the academic accomplishments of voucher participants.