Action Alert

Take action now to oppose federal funding of religious private schools

 

We have the opportunity to thwart a unique federal handout to religious schools.

Last week, a new U.S. Senate bill was introduced that would permanently fund the Washington, D.C., voucher program, the so-called Opportunity Scholarship program, which is the only federally funded voucher program in the country. This bill, S. 2682, would fund federal tax dollars directly into religious private schools and privately run charter schools, at the expense of D.C. public schools. Please take action today to voice your opposition to this scheme.

S. 2682 has a surprising sponsor in prominent senior California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Many are unaware of Feinstein’s support of private religious vouchers. This is likely due to her personal experience attending a private Catholic high school, where, she reportedly said, classes on Catholic doctrine helped her answer the “big questions.” She now says, “I am religious in my thinking.”

This bent toward religious thinking has led to Feinstein and anti-public education zealots like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson becoming strange bedfellows. The bill is currently in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which is ironically holding a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday entitled “Rise of the Zombies: The Unauthorized and Unaccountable Government You Pay For.”

The U.S. Senate needs to know that Americans do not want to be forced to fund private religious education. Please use our automated system below to email and call your senators and urge them to oppose S. 2682.

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FFRF vigorously opposes any public funding of private schools, which are disproportionately religiously affiliated. It is deeply irresponsible and unconstitutional for Congress to force the D.C. voucher program on students. The program has proven unsuccessful, poorly managed and unaccountable to taxpayers. Research on voucher programs has found that they tend to worsen academic achievement of participatory students. The D.C. voucher program in particular has demonstrated serious oversight problems in its repeated failure to meet the accountability standards.

Secular public schools are the backbone of our American democracy — and its commitment to a government free from religious indoctrination. Public schools unite a diverse range of ethnic and religious communities, fostering tolerance and intellectual expansion. Public schools, unlike private schools, are entirely inclusive and equally serving to all students of all cultural and religious, or nonreligious, backgrounds.

The D.C. voucher program allows religious schools to discriminate against students on criteria such as gender, thus funding discrimination that would be illegal in a public school setting.

It is especially concerning to FFRF that even though private schools participating in voucher programs receive public funding, they do not abide by federal civil rights laws, and do not adhere to religious freedom protections guaranteed to public school students under the First Amendment. They do not face the same public accountability standards that all public schools must meet. Taxpayer money must not be used to fund schools that do not promise to protect the civil rights of students, or to indoctrinate.

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