Americans United activists from around the country gathered virtually on Feb. 22 to share their strategies for fighting private school vouchers.
AU organized a webinar that brought together chapter members and AU staff including State Legislative Counsel Nik Nartowicz, Faith Organizer Bill Mefford, Interim Field Director David Morris and Youth Outreach Coordinator Erin Hagen.
The webinar’s focus was primarily on what activists are doing in the field to mobilize against voucher schemes. Building coalitions with like-minded individuals and groups was cited repeatedly as an effective strategy.
Rick McClatchy shared how his chapter in San Antonio has joined a coalition in Austin to fight against vouchers. The San Antonio chapter’s focus has been educating Texans about private school vouchers in rural districts where people greatly value public schools as cultural centers.
Allison Mahaley, former president of the AU’s Orange-Durham Chapter in North Carolina, shared how she led her chapter to partner with the Democracy Council of North Carolina and the North Carolina Council of Churches on the issue of gerrymandering, which has resulted in the election of a disproportionate number of pro-voucher legislators. Mahaley and her coalition have worked together on the “Schools Our Children Deserve” campaign.
In Tennessee, Diana Page and Charles Sumner said the Nashville chapter has worked with Pastors for Tennessee Children to counter voucher programs in their state.
“Coalition-building is the key to fighting vouchers,” Field Intern Nancy Garrett, who also sat in on the webinar, wrote on AU’s Wall of Separation blog. “Vouchers threaten public education, and people from diverse backgrounds may have different reasons for opposing them. But in the end, we are all fighting for the same thing.”