Americans United and allied organizations have condemned a new proposal by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to divert taxpayer money to private schools.

In late April, DeVos released details for a private school voucher proposal as part of the Education Stabilization Fund authorized by the CARES Act, legislation passed by Congress to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Rethink K-12 School Models Grant” plan would shift public dollars to pay for any educational service that a private school, an online school or a company may offer.

The National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE), an umbrella group Americans United co-chairs, blasted the proposal.

“We recognize the hardship many students and families are currently facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the closure of many schools and the unprecedented need for parents and educators to manage student learning,” NCPE said in a statement. “It is during this challenging time that the federal government should focus on providing more resources to our public schools and public school educators, who are best-equipped to serve all students, rather than siphoning limited resources to individual students to use in private schools and for-profit online learning programs.

“Public dollars should fund public schools,” the statement continued. “This scheme is no different than other attempts by this administration to divert federal funding to unaccountable private educational entities. Years of research tells us that private school voucher programs don’t improve student academic achievement and are unaccountable to taxpayers. Further, they fail to provide better educational opportunities for low-income students and also fail to provide effective services and protections for students with disabilities – two groups of students which the grant proposal singles out for higher priority.”

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