Saturday, February 12, 2011

LWVPA POSITION OPPOSING SCHOOL VOUCHERS FOR NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS

This week the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters issued the following statement in opposition to school vouchers:

LWVPA POSITION OPPOSING SCHOOL VOUCHERS FOR NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS

 The  2003 LWV Education Position directly addresses the tuition voucher question. The LWV is firmly opposed to tuition vouchers for nonpublic schools. Our opposition is based on several beliefs and concerns: 1) We believe that Article III of the state Constitution clearly forbids use of public education funds for the support of religious schools. Furthermore, we believe such support violates Article 1 of our US Constitution, a treasured principle, often referred to as separation of Church and State. The League believes that taxpayers must not be forced to support schools which are indoctrinating beliefs contrary to, and even anti-ethical to their own beliefs. 2) We feel that vouchers may encourage the separation of our society into ethnic and religious groups, which is the antithesis of the principles on which our country was founded. 3) Nonpublic schools are rightly called independent schools and in any of the voucher proposals thus far there is no process nor requirement for accountability either fiscal or financial, and no requirement for disclosure of admission policies, dismissal policies, or rejections policies from the nonpublic schools which would receive taxpayer funds.

Whatever the final form of a voucher proposal, we know that School Choice always means the school gets to choose! No voucher plan ever guarantees admission to any nonpublic school. Nor does it prevent the disenrollment of a child if the school decides that the child is not satisfactory in some way. Proponents of vouchers for nonpublic schools say that they want to let parents decide how their money is spent to educate their children. Of course, parents have always had that right. It is whether they have the right to take the money of other taxpayers and spend it in nonpublic settings that is the question! But more important, there is an obligation of the state to educate all of its children and not just those with a caregiver able, alert and sophisticated enough to seek out special opportunities. Those children are already advantaged. Helping a fortunate few at the neglect of the most needy is not only unjust but also poor public policy.
 2003 LWV education position directly addresses the tuition voucher question. The LWV is firmly opposed to tuition vouchers for nonpublic schools. Our opposition is based on several beliefs and concerns: 

1) We believe that Article III of the state Constitution clearly forbids use of public education funds for the support of religious schools. Furthermore, we believe such support violates Article 1 of our US Constitution, a treasured principle, often referred to as separation of Church and State. The League believes that taxpayers must not be forced to support schools which are indoctrinating beliefs contrary to, and even anti-ethical to their own beliefs. 

2) We feel that vouchers may encourage the separation of our society into ethnic and religious groups, which is the antithesis of the principles on which our country was founded. 

3) Nonpublic schools are rightly called independent schools and in any of the voucher proposals thus far there is no process nor requirement for accountability either fiscal or financial, and no requirement for disclosure of admission policies, dismissal policies, or rejections policies from the nonpublic schools which would receive taxpayer funds.

Whatever the final form of a voucher proposal, we know that School Choice always means the school gets to choose! No voucher plan ever guarantees admission to any nonpublic school. Nor does it prevent the disenrollment of a child if the school decides that the child is not satisfactory in some way. Proponents of vouchers for nonpublic schools say that they want to let parents decide how their money is spent to educate their children. Of course, parents have always had that right. It is whether they have the right to take the money of other taxpayers and spend it in nonpublic settings that is the question! But more important, there is an obligation of the state to educate all of its children and not just those with a caregiver able, alert and sophisticated enough to seek out special opportunities. Those children are already advantaged. Helping a fortunate few at the neglect of the most needy is not only unjust but also poor public policy.

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