Education Law Center (ELC), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the SPLC Action Fund have joined forces on a nationwide campaign to fight private school vouchers and ensure public funds are dedicated to educating the millions of students in public schools across the country.
The new campaign – Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS) – will deploy multiple strategies to combat the diversion of taxpayer dollars to private schools. These strategies include filing and supporting lawsuits; disseminating research on the impact and outcomes of voucher programs; and supporting parents, students, educators, and concerned communities advocating to keep taxpayer dollars in their public schools.
PFPS will build on ELC’s and SPLC’s decades of legal and advocacy expertise to respond to proposals for new or expanded private school voucher programs on the state and federal levels. Munger, Tolles & Olson, a premier national law firm, is also a PFPS partner, drawing on its success in a lawsuit striking down Nevada’s unlimited voucher law.
A crucial backdrop for the PFPS campaign is the severe and chronic underfunding of the nation’s public schools. Nearly half of states are investing less in public education than before the 2008 recession, and wide funding gaps persist between schools in wealthy communities and those in low-income communities and communities of color. That’s why taking public dollars from public schools poses a grave and growing threat to the opportunity for every child in the United States to attend a thriving public school.
Vouchers now come in many forms, including “traditional” vouchers to pay for private school tuition, so-called voucher “scholarships” funded by tax credits to individuals and corporations, and private education “savings accounts” created with taxpayer dollars. All of these voucher programs have one thing in common: they reduce the resources available to educate the vast majority of the nation’s children who rely on our public schools.
“Every tax dollar used for a voucher is money desperately needed to meet states’ responsibility to provide a quality public education to all children,” said Bacardi Jackson, SPLC managing attorney. “Voucher schools also lack accountability for civil rights protections: voucher-recipient schools can and do discriminate based on, among other things, students’ and families’ disabilities, LGBTQ status, religion, immigration status, and language proficiency.”
In addition to filing and participating in lawsuits challenging voucher laws, PFPS will closely monitor legislative proposals in the states to start new voucher programs or expand existing ones. Recognizing that advocates across the country are organizing to fight for public schools, PFPS aims to support and supplement those efforts.
Visitors to the campaign’s new website will be able to access information about voucher proposals in their states during legislative sessions. Up-to-date voucher research and news about advocacy campaigns is also available on the website, along with information about previous and current lawsuits.
“The spread of vouchers is a serious threat to education equity and the future of our public schools. PFPS is a powerful initiative ready to fight against vouchers and, by doing so, keep public funding where it belongs: in public schools for public schoolchildren,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “We encourage supporters of public education across the country to join us.”
Southern Poverty Law Center
Education Law Center