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NCPE Opposes Funding the D.C. School Voucher Program

(Updated June 20 to add the letter sent to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations)

NCPE Opposes Funding the D.C. School Voucher Program in FY2013

June 14, 2012

Daniel K. Inouye
Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room S. 128
The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510

Thad Cochran
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room S. 128
The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Senator Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran:

The undersigned members of the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE) write to voice opposition to the funding of the District of Columbia private school voucher program, and strongly urge you to reject any efforts, including possible amendments filed, to fund or increase appropriations for this program during full committee markup of the FY2013 Financial Services Appropriations bill. The program has not been found to be effective in improving educational outcomes for participating students. At a time when Congress is considering cutting trillions of dollars from the federal budget, it should not be spending millions of taxpayer dollars for a small number of students to attend private schools.

In addition to the many problems with the D.C. voucher program—including religious liberty and civil rights issues—it has proven ineffective. All four of the congressionally-mandated U.S. Department of Education (USED) studies that have analyzed the D.C. voucher program concluded that it did not significantly improve reading or math achievement, leaving no justification for continuing its funding.[1] The USED studies further found that the voucher program had no effect on student satisfaction, motivation or engagement, or student views on school safety.[2] The studies also indicated that many of the students in the voucher program were less likely to have access to key services such as ESL programs, learning supports, special education supports and services, and counselors than students who were not part of the program.[3] Having failed to improve the academic achievement and school experience of the students in the program, the voucher program clearly does not warrant continued funding.

NCPE believes that instead of sending federal taxpayer money to private schools, these funds should be invested in the public schools. We also note that despite receiving public money, the participating private schools are not subject to all federal civil rights laws and public accountability standards, including those in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), that all public schools must meet. Finally, we also believe this program continues to raise problems under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The objective evidence does not support spending millions of dollars of taxpayer funding on the D.C. private school voucher program. For these reasons and more, NCPE opposes the funding of the D.C. voucher program in the FY2013 Financial Services Appropriations bill.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.


Sincerely,
African American Ministers in Action
American Association of School Administrators
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Federation of School Administrators
American Federation of Teachers
American Humanist Association
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
Americans for Religious Liberty
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Anti-Defamation League
ASPIRA Association, Inc.
Association of Education Service Agencies
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Center for Inquiry
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Council for Exceptional Children
Council of the Great City Schools
Disciples Justice Action Network
Equal Partners in Faith
Feminist Majority
Hindu American Foundation
Institute for Science and Human Values
Interfaith Alliance
International Reading Association
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
NAACP
National Alliance of Black School Educators
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National Organization for Women
National Parent Teacher Association
National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition
National Rural Education Association
National School Boards Association
People For the American Way
Public Education Network
School Social Work Association of America
Secular Coalition for America
Southern Poverty Law Center
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
Women of Reform Judaism

1 US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Final Report xv, xix, 34 (June 2010) (Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report); Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 34; US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After Three Years 34 (March 2009) (2009 US Dep’t of Educ. Report); US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After Two Years 34, 36-38 (June 2008) (2008 US Dep’t of Educ. Report); US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After One Year xvii, 44, 46 (June 2007) (2007 US Dep’t of Educ. Report).
2 Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 43-47; 2009 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xxvi, xviii, 35, 44-45, 49-50; 2008 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 42-43, 50, 57; and 2007 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xx, 53-55.
3 Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 20; 2009 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xxii, 17; 2008 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xviii, 16.

=================

June 20, 2012

Harold Rogers
Chairman
House Committee on Appropriations
Room H-307, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Norman D. Dicks
Ranking Member 
House Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Dicks:

The undersigned members of the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE) write to urge you to eliminate funding for the District of Columbia private school voucher program during markup of the FY2013 Financial Services Appropriations bill. The program has not been found to be effective in improving educational outcomes for participating students. At a time when Congress is considering cutting trillions of dollars from the federal budget, it should not be spending millions of taxpayer dollars for a small number of students to attend private schools.

In addition to the many problems with the D.C. voucher program—including religious liberty and civil rights issues—it has proven ineffective. All four of the congressionally-mandated U.S. Department of Education (USED) studies that have analyzed the D.C. voucher program concluded that it did not significantly improve reading or math achievement, leaving no justification for continuing its funding.1 The USED studies further found that the voucher program had no effect on student satisfaction, motivation or engagement, or student views on school safety.2 The studies also indicated that many of the students in the voucher program were less likely to have access to key services such as ESL programs, learning supports, special education supports and services, and counselors than students who were not part of the program.3 Having failed to improve the academic achievement and school experience of the students in the program, the voucher program clearly does not warrant continued funding.

NCPE believes that instead of sending federal taxpayer money to private schools, these funds should be invested in the public schools. We also note that despite receiving public money, the participating private schools are not subject to all federal civil rights laws and public accountability standards, including those in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), that all public schools must meet. Finally, we also believe this program continues to raise problems under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The objective evidence does not support spending millions of dollars of taxpayer funding on the D.C. private school voucher program. For these reasons and more, NCPE opposes the funding of the D.C. voucher program in the FY2013 Financial Services Appropriations bill.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.


Sincerely,

African American Ministers in Action
American Association of School Administrators
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Federation of School Administrators
American Federation of Teachers
American Humanist Association
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
Americans for Religious Liberty
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Anti-Defamation League
ASPIRA Association, Inc.
Association of Education Service Agencies
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Center for Inquiry
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Council for Exceptional Children
Council of the Great City Schools
Disciples Justice Action Network
Equal Partners in Faith
Feminist Majority
Hindu American Foundation
Institute for Science and Human Values
Interfaith Alliance
International Reading Association
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
NAACP
National Alliance of Black School Educators
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National Organization for Women
National Parent Teacher Association
National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition
National Rural Education Association
National School Boards Association
People For the American Way
Public Education Network
School Social Work Association of America
Secular Coalition for America
Southern Poverty Law Center
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
Women of Reform Judaism

[1] US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program:  Final Report xv, xix, 34 (June 2010) (Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report); Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 34; US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program:  Impacts After Three Years 34 (March 2009) (2009 US Dep’t of Educ. Report); US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program:  Impacts After Two Years 34, 36-38  (June 2008) (2008 US Dep’t of Educ. Report); US Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After One Year xvii, 44, 46 (June 2007) (2007 US Dep’t of Educ. Report).

[2] Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 43-47; 2009 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xxvi, xviii, 35, 44-45, 49-50; 2008 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 42-43, 50, 57; and 2007 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xx, 53-55.

[3] Final US Dep’t of Educ. Report at 20; 2009 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xxii, 17; 2008 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xviii, 16.

 

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