Private school vouchers are a threat to religious freedom

By Maggie Garrett

(RNS) — In his newly released federal budget, President Trump calls for funneling $1 billion in taxpayer funds into private school voucher programs. It’s a bad idea for several reasons.

First, public money should fund public schools, which serve 90 percent of American students. Public schools are a unifying factor in our diverse country and their doors are open to all students, regardless of their religion. Private schools, however, serve only a few, select students.

Vouchers also don’t work. Numerous studies have shown that students attending private schools with vouchers don’t do better academically — and sometimes do worse — than their peers. Voucher programs also often fund unaccredited, poor-quality schools that take in a lot of taxpayer money but offer little education in return. In some cases, voucher schools — most frequently it is the lowest-quality schools — are almost entirely funded by taxpayer-funded vouchers.

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