WASHINGTON — Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS), a campaign of SPLC Action Fund, Education Law Center, and Munger, Tolles & Olson, issued the statement below following recent announcements that the Trump administration plans to push for significant federal funding of private school voucher programs at the expense of public school funding.
The following statement is from Jessica Levin, Senior Attorney at Education Law Center and Director of the Public Funds Public Schools campaign:
“President Trump and Secretary DeVos’ latest attempt to subsidize private schools with federal funds is another thinly veiled attack by the Trump Administration on our nation’s public schools. The administration’s threat to divert federal education funding to private schools is aimed at stripping essential resources from public schools severely impacted by the pandemic and thereby depriving millions of students across the country of the educational opportunities they are entitled to and deserve.
“With public schools struggling to ensure all students continue to learn, receive meals, and get the physical and mental health supports they need during this crisis, it is especially shameful that Secretary DeVos would push her voucher proposals as part of COVID-19 relief measures.
“Secretary DeVos portrays access to private schools as a civil rights issue, but vouchers have always undermined the struggle for civil rights for our nation’s students. The first voucher programs were used as a tool to evade school desegregation in the Deep South. In today’s voucher schools, students are stripped of rights and protections they hold in public schools, including protections for LGBTQ students and students with disabilities. Private schools are not held to the same standards as public schools, and it is the private voucher schools – not parents – that are given “choice” to decide whether to admit or reject, retain or expel students based on their religion, sexual orientation, disability, language proficiency, or other personal characteristics.
“What’s more, vouchers do not improve student learning. Numerous studies have found that voucher programs fail to improve academic outcomes.
“Try as they might, Secretary DeVos and President Trump have been unable to push their private school voucher plans through Congress in over three years. We are confident this time will be no different.
“Public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy. They educate the vast majority of our nation’s students. The focus must be on strengthening our country’s underfunded public schools — which are accountable to our communities and open to all — by providing the funding and resources needed to meet the immense challenges brought by COVID-19, not siphoning taxpayer money to programs that undermine students’ civil rights.”
For more information about PFPS, please visit: https://pfps.org/about.html.