House Rebuffs Republican Leaders on Vouchers

October 21, 1999 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives today overwhelmingly rebuffed the efforts of Republican leaders to divert tax dollars from schools that serve poor communities to school vouchers for private and religious schools.

“Twice today we saw strong majorities in the House recognize that vouchers have no place in a bill that is designed to deliver essential funding to schools that serve poor communities,” said Terri Schroeder, an ACLU legislative representative.

Despite the objections of Rep. Bill Goodling, Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, and President Clinton, the Republican House leadership allowed two voucher amendments to be debated during consideration of a bill on education funds for low-income school districts. Rep. Goodling, along with representatives from both parties, blocked voucher amendments that were offered during committee consideration of the reauthorization of the $8 billion Title I bill, H.R. 2.

One amendment, offered by House Majority Dick Armey, R-TX, would have diverted some of the Title I funds to voucher programs. It was defeated on a vote of 166 to 257. Rep. Thomas Petri, R-WI, offered a similar amendment, which was defeated on a vote of 153 to 271.

The ACLU emphasized that poll after poll confirms that most Americans want their tax dollars spent to ensure that all children attend safe and clean schools, with smaller class sizes and better teacher training. Voucher programs, in contrast, do nothing to address these pressing needs.

“Fundamental fairness demands that we improve our public schools for every child instead of targeting a few for special privileges,” Schroeder said.

“Voucher schemes offer the illusion of ‘choice,’ when at best, they increase the opportunities for only a handful of children who will be carefully selected by private and religious schools that have the luxury of deciding whom they want to admit,” Schroeder added.

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