The School Choice Myth and Our (Literal) Case Against It

Opportunity in education. Effective education options for every child. Stimulating educational environments. Every year at the end of January, the proponents of National School Choice Week emphasize these ideals as reasons that parents, educators, and policymakers should support school voucher and tax credit programs.

By appealing to the core aspirations for reform desired among the education community, the school choice movement masks the fact that these programs do not actually offer the benefits their supporters tout. Instead, voucher and tax credit programs typically funnel taxpayer funds into private and often religious schools that are free to discriminate against students on a variety of grounds and are exempt from meeting the same educational requirements as public schools.

In previous years, the ACLU has pointed out the significant and fundamental flaws of these programs. Beyond classroom material, private religious schools can and do discriminate, for example, by excluding students on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Unfortunately, parents and educators are still being sold on the school choice myth in 2016.

We are currently challenging Nevada’s newly established “Education Savings Account” program that takes public funds — which would otherwise go toward public schools that welcome all students and adhere to educational standards — and diverts them to vouchers for private-school tuition. As in many states with such programs, the majority of private schools are religious. That means the schools employ a wide variety of curricula, daily practices, and admission and hiring requirements not acceptable in public schools.

For example, in Nevada, Liberty Baptist Academy uses a textbook “based on the truth of God’s word” that refutes evolution and promotes the universe as a “direct creation of God.” Logos Christian Academy disciplines students with corporal punishment. Bishop Gorman High School may dismiss students if they have had an abortion or helped someone obtain one. International Christian Academy will reject or disenroll a student who is gay or bisexual. Many of these schools require religious worship from the students on a daily or weekly basis, can require parents to adhere to a statement of faith or attend the school’s church, and require certain beliefs and conduct from teachers.

Under the Nevada program, voucher money can also go toward non-instructional activities, such as purchasing Bibles or funding renovations for the school’s sponsoring church. This is not only bad policy, but, as we argue in our lawsuit, it also violates the Nevada Constitution. The state constitution specifically states that “[n]o public funds of any kind or character … shall be used for sectarian purpose.”

Parents have the right to send their children to a private school and to provide a religious education for them at their own expense. But taxpayers are not and should not be obligated to fund that decision.

During this School Choice Week, remember that true educational opportunity does not come from a program that takes public money to support schools that can discriminate and indoctrinate. It comes from a robust system of public schools that can provide a free, quality education to students from all religions and backgrounds.

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Jim

Kudos to you David you're exactly right. We could also add to that by asking where does this "sending my share of tax dollars" ends? Why couldn't it apply to any public endeavor? Or any national institution?

Steve

I love the idea of school choice, especially for those who can't afford private school. However, you can still have school vouchers and respect separation of church and state.

Jim

Why should we support any private school? Especially since none have to adhere to the same standard as the public school does.

Private schools cannot replace the public school system.

Lisa Crow

Education is the first budget cut the government makes. I don't blame parents for wanting something better than what public schools are offering these days, but I really don't want my tax dollars going to support churches or religions in which I do not believe, either. So, what's the answer? Maybe vouchers could be made to specify no religious schools? Or there's always homeschooling ...

Anonymous

Stop making it sound like weak-minded parents are being led around by the nose. Schools of choice is a result of parents demanding an option. We. Are. Fed. Up. You are either with us or against us. The public school establishment needs to wizen up before it is completely disassembled.

Jim

You're doing what too many in this topic are doing, gross generalizations. You said "WE" are demanding school choice. Factually that's not true.

Me and my family are part of your "WE" and we're demanding the opposite: Fix the public schools. So we ask, speak for yourself not for me and millions of others.

We're also peeved that you're suggesting private schools are superior to public schools, some are and some aren't.

Anonymous

It is okay for public schools to indoctrinate students with all the liberal agendas i suppose

Anonymous

Hilarious.
Compare their test scores and tell me the public schools average better than the private schools.....they don't.
A school should not have to accept everyone because that's what public schools are for. Private schools are about results and each school decides what works best for their students

If they say they only teach green students who are 5 feet tall and are Mormons so be it.....the parents of those children pay taxes and deserve to have their tax vouchers for the school THEY choose to send their kids to with THEIR tax money.

Public Schools and public education are a joke. Over and over the scores and outcomes prove it. Where did Obama go to school? Private.

Where do people with money send their kids? The best performing public schools in wealthy neighborhoods or private schools that have extremely high college acceptance rates with 100% high school graduation rates.

In a time where young black male students are dropping out at record levels you promoting the same public system which has failed them for decades.

If a school says they only teach young black males and are Christians I would bet money they have more success than the public school near them.

How do I know?

k12.niche.com/rankings/private-high-schools/best-catholic/m/los-angeles-metro-area/

Because there are all black, all boys high schools with 100% graduations and college acceptance rates in LA in the inner city where at risk youth could easily end up dead or in jail.

To discriminate means to make a choice.....focusing on black boys allowed them best to teach and support a very specific student body to excellence.

Shame on you for keeping the status quo of public failure

Mary Anne

Shouldn't parents be able to send their kids to whatever school they want if they can? The answer is yes.

Anonymous

@ below Anti-evolution. Wrong on all levels.

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