Americans United joined a band of allies through the National Coalition for Public Education to push back against the private-school voucher schemes that are promoted during National School Choice Week.
Every January, school-choice advocates plan a week of nationwide rallies and events such as the one that took place in New Hampshire on Jan. 24 with newly elected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. The school choice “champion” talked to the crowd about his children’s experiences of being educated at home and in Catholic schools and his support for expanding tuition tax credits, according to the Concord Monitor.
National School Choice Week took on added significance this year, since it coincided with the U.S. Senate’s consideration of President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, school privatization proponent Betsy DeVos. Trump himself has proposed to funnel $20 billion in federal money toward voucher programs.
AU opposes vouchers and related tuition tax credit programs because they divert tax dollars away from public education and into private schools (often sectarian) that lack accountability, often have poor track records at improving student performance, allow government money to be spent on religious indoctrination and don’t provide the same civil rights protections as public schools.
AU’s staff was busy advocating for public education throughout the week and beyond. Staffers participated in a number of protests and rallies aimed at urging senators to vote against DeVos’ confirmation. On Jan. 25, AU joined the “Wear Red for Ed” campaign to show its support for public education.
Americans United also countered School Choice Week propaganda on its “Wall of Separation” blog outlining why the organization opposed DeVos and vouchers. Through the website, au.org and social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, AU constantly pushed out the latest anti-voucher information.
AU’s Federal Legislative Counsel Elise Helgesen Aguilar noted in a blog post that more than a dozen state legislatures are considering new or expanded voucher programs this year, so the battle against privatization is far from over.