Maggie Garrett, legislative director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, today issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, which includes a $1 billion outlay for private school vouchers:
“We are disappointed that the president’s budget calls for $1 billion to expand and create new private school voucher programs – a huge increase from the $250 million that he called for in his FY2018 budget. The president should support public money funding public schools, rather than funneling those taxpayer dollars to private, religious schools through voucher schemes.
“Vouchers divert desperately needed resources away from the public school system, which educates 90 percent of our students, to fund the education of a few voucher students in private, religious schools. Voucher programs are an ineffective and damaging education policy: they do not improve – and can even lead to declines in – student achievement. They also lack accountability to taxpayers, deprive students of civil rights protections and often provide students with fewer resources than they would have in public schools.
“Vouchers violate the religious freedom of both taxpayers and religious schools. The government should not compel any citizen to furnish funds in support of a religion with which he or she disagrees – or even a religion with which he or she does agree. Vouchers also threaten the religious liberty and autonomy of religious schools, as vouchers open them up to government audits, monitoring, control and interference from which they would otherwise be exempt.
“We believe that public funds should fund public schools; therefore, we urge Congress to reject this budget's voucher proposal.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.