Despite Congress’ rejection of his “school choice” proposal two years ago, President Bush last week recommenced his push for school vouchers. In a visit to a District of Columbia charter school last Tuesday, Bush announced his support for legislation, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Davis (R-VA), that would give $75 million to programs in several cities, including $15 million in private school “scholarship” money to low-income kids enrolled in specific D.C. public schools, according to the Associated Press. Bush avoided using the word “voucher,” reported the Washington Post.
The announcement is a departure for the President, who has seldom advocated vouchers since Congress’ rejection of his 2001 proposal to stop federal funding of poor-performing schools and make those funds available to parents for vouchers to private schools, according to the Associated Press. “It is the beginning of an experiment that will show whether or not private school choice makes a difference in quality education in public schools,” said Bush of the D.C. program, the Post reported.
Critics of the bill, including the National Education Association (NEA), say that school voucher programs siphon money away from failing public schools, and they often blur the line between church and state by giving that money to religious schools, reported the Associated Press. NEA President Reg Weaver also pointed out the lack of research supporting the use of vouchers. Vouchers are “a ticket to nowhere,” Weaver told the Associated Press. “If vouchers were the true savior, then the research would bear that out.”
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