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

Americans United Sues Trump Administration Over Rules That Threaten Women’s Access To Birth Control

Americans United is following through on a promise we made when the Trump administration announced an attack on women’s health care last month: We’ve filed a federal lawsuit challenging the administration’s new regulations that allow employers and universities to use religion as an excuse to deny their staff and students health insurance coverage for birth control.

Jerry Falwell Jr. Admits That The Religious Right’s Support For Trump Is About Power, Not Values

Religious Right favorite Jerry Falwell Jr. recently spoke with white nationalist propaganda website, Breitbart, and made some comments that made it clear that the Religious Right’s relationship with the Republican Party is (unsurprisingly) about political power, not religious values.

AU Tells Supreme Court To Stop Businesses From Using Religion As Excuse To Discriminate

On Dec. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could have a huge impact on how our nation’s anti-discrimination laws protect the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, women and just about anyone.

The Trump Administration Is Seeking Advice On How To Use Religion To Discriminate

The Trump administration is taking yet another step towards making it easier for taxpayer-funded organizations to use religion to discriminate. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a formal request for information to help it figure out how to remove “barriers” it claims faith-based organizations face when seeking taxpayer funding from HHS. It also asks how to “affirmatively accommodate” the religious exercise of faith-based organizations.

Trump Religious Adviser Robert Jeffress Has Questions. We’ve Got Answers.

There are many bad things about Donald Trump’s presidency, but one of the worst is that it has thrust people like Pastor Robert Jeffress into the national spotlight.

Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, was one of any number of far-right theocrats with a smidgen of regional notoriety at best until he hitched himself to Trump’s campaign. Now, as one of Trump’s inner circle of religious advisers, Jeffress is much loved by the Fox News Channel and appears there regularly.

Pages

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

Americans United Sues Trump Administration Over Rules That Threaten Women’s Access To Birth Control

Americans United is following through on a promise we made when the Trump administration announced an attack on women’s health care last month: We’ve filed a federal lawsuit challenging the administration’s new regulations that allow employers and universities to use religion as an excuse to deny their staff and students health insurance coverage for birth control.

Jerry Falwell Jr. Admits That The Religious Right’s Support For Trump Is About Power, Not Values

Religious Right favorite Jerry Falwell Jr. recently spoke with white nationalist propaganda website, Breitbart, and made some comments that made it clear that the Religious Right’s relationship with the Republican Party is (unsurprisingly) about political power, not religious values.

AU Tells Supreme Court To Stop Businesses From Using Religion As Excuse To Discriminate

On Dec. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could have a huge impact on how our nation’s anti-discrimination laws protect the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, women and just about anyone.

The Trump Administration Is Seeking Advice On How To Use Religion To Discriminate

The Trump administration is taking yet another step towards making it easier for taxpayer-funded organizations to use religion to discriminate. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a formal request for information to help it figure out how to remove “barriers” it claims faith-based organizations face when seeking taxpayer funding from HHS. It also asks how to “affirmatively accommodate” the religious exercise of faith-based organizations.

Trump Religious Adviser Robert Jeffress Has Questions. We’ve Got Answers.

There are many bad things about Donald Trump’s presidency, but one of the worst is that it has thrust people like Pastor Robert Jeffress into the national spotlight.

Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, was one of any number of far-right theocrats with a smidgen of regional notoriety at best until he hitched himself to Trump’s campaign. Now, as one of Trump’s inner circle of religious advisers, Jeffress is much loved by the Fox News Channel and appears there regularly.

Pages

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

Americans United Sues Trump Administration Over Rules That Threaten Women’s Access To Birth Control

Americans United is following through on a promise we made when the Trump administration announced an attack on women’s health care last month: We’ve filed a federal lawsuit challenging the administration’s new regulations that allow employers and universities to use religion as an excuse to deny their staff and students health insurance coverage for birth control.

Jerry Falwell Jr. Admits That The Religious Right’s Support For Trump Is About Power, Not Values

Religious Right favorite Jerry Falwell Jr. recently spoke with white nationalist propaganda website, Breitbart, and made some comments that made it clear that the Religious Right’s relationship with the Republican Party is (unsurprisingly) about political power, not religious values.

AU Tells Supreme Court To Stop Businesses From Using Religion As Excuse To Discriminate

On Dec. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could have a huge impact on how our nation’s anti-discrimination laws protect the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, women and just about anyone.

The Trump Administration Is Seeking Advice On How To Use Religion To Discriminate

The Trump administration is taking yet another step towards making it easier for taxpayer-funded organizations to use religion to discriminate. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a formal request for information to help it figure out how to remove “barriers” it claims faith-based organizations face when seeking taxpayer funding from HHS. It also asks how to “affirmatively accommodate” the religious exercise of faith-based organizations.

Trump Religious Adviser Robert Jeffress Has Questions. We’ve Got Answers.

There are many bad things about Donald Trump’s presidency, but one of the worst is that it has thrust people like Pastor Robert Jeffress into the national spotlight.

Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, was one of any number of far-right theocrats with a smidgen of regional notoriety at best until he hitched himself to Trump’s campaign. Now, as one of Trump’s inner circle of religious advisers, Jeffress is much loved by the Fox News Channel and appears there regularly.

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