SA Express Op-Ed: Vouchers will spend tax dollars on religion

SA Express Op-Ed: Vouchers will spend tax dollars on religion


Vouchers are a terrible idea, and it is important to be engaged in this debate. If voucher proponents succeed, it will mean the inevitable dismantling of our public school system.

The word that is often used is “choice.” Supporters argue that vouchers give students and parents a “choice” in their education. Who doesn’t want choice, right? It sounds so good. But let’s examine what this so-called “choice” really is.

Approximately 90 percent of all students — kindergarten through 12th grade — go to public schools in the United States today. Only 10 percent go to private schools. But here is the little secret voucher proponents won’t tell you. Of those private schools, 9 out of 10 are private religious schools. This means the so-called choice is between a public education and a religious education. Do you think this is a real choice? Or is this choice more about a backdoor way of funding private religious schools and sucking money away from the public school system?

There is nothing wrong with sending children to a private religious school. That right has existed for a long time. No one wants to stop a parent from getting what they think is the best education for their children. The problem arises when your and my tax dollars go to fund their religious beliefs.

One of the most important and cherished principles of religious liberty is that government should not force any citizen to furnish funds in support of a religion with which he or she disagrees or, for that matter, even a religion with which he or she does agree. Voucher programs violate this central tenet. Vouchers use taxpayer money to fund a primarily religious education.

Public schools, especially here in Texas, are already inadequately funded. Tax money that would ordinarily go to public schools would be siphoned away by vouchers not only limiting but actually harming the capacity of public schools in the state.

One of the ironies is that vouchers do not improve opportunities for kids from low income families. Voucher payments do not cover the entire cost of tuition or other mandatory fees for private schools. A 2003 study of the Ohio program concluded: “For many families, the financial burden of paying even the relatively small portion of their children’s private school tuition is more than they can bear.” In the end, the families most likely to use a voucher are the ones who could already afford to send their kids to private schools.

Religious private voucher schools usually do not… more.



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