Jan 24, 2014

The National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE) says it’s unfortunate that “National School Choice Week,” which takes place Jan. 26-Feb.1, so heavily promotes private school vouchers as a positive choice for America’s students. 

Vouchers don’t provide equal access to high quality education or set high standards and accountability. Instead, study after study has found they are ineffective, lack accountability to taxpayers and strip students of rights otherwise provided in public school. 

While public school choice options are also highlighted during this week, pro-voucher proponents use this week to bash traditional public schools and promote unconstitutional funding schemes that undermine these schools’ ability to effectively educate every student they must serve. 

“Parents and students have no real choice under these plans,” said Maggie Garrett, legislative director at Americans United for Separation of Church and State and co-chair of NCPE. “The choice of whether to admit a child rests wholly with private schools and the people who operate them.”

Sasha Pudelski, associate director of policy and advocacy at the American Association of School Administrators and also co-chair of NCPE, noted that the American people don’t support vouchers.

“Time and time again, voters have rejected vouchers at the ballot box,” Pudelski said. “In addition, polls show opposition to vouchers at an all-time high.”

Pudelski noted that a Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll taken in 2013 showed that 70 percent of respondents said they opposed plans to shift public funding into private and religious schools through voucher plans. This was the highest number in the poll’s 20-year history.

The sponsors of National School Choice Week include the Heritage Foundation, the National Catholic Educational Association, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Freedom Works and Betsy DeVos’ Alliance for School Choice.

Despite public opposition to vouchers, plans continue to be proposed in the states.

For more information about the problems with vouchers and other “school choice” schemes, visit this special web page: https://www.au.org/voucherFAIL

NCPE is a coalition of more than 50 public policy, education and religious organizations that support public education and oppose vouchers. Members include: African American Ministers in Action, American Association of University Women, Anti-Defamation League, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Hindu America Foundation, the NAACP,  National Parent Teacher Association, National School Boards Association, School Social Work Association of America and the Union for Reform Judaism.