Americans United and its allies urged Congress in December to omit a school voucher provision from the defense spending bill.
The $5 million pilot program was inserted through an amendment to the $726 billion defense bill, which already contained several provisions aimed at improving the education of military children. Under the plan, which was proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), students with special education needs would receive $7,500 per year for tuition at religious and other private schools.
Education and civil liberties groups opposed the voucher proposal.
“Federal dollars should go to the public schools,” Mary Kusler of the National Education Association told Education Week. The government underfunds special education as it is, she said, and parents who choose the vouchers will not receive all the protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Americans United and a broad coalition of advocacy groups are working in Congress to oppose use of public funds at religious or other private schools.
As Church & State went to press in mid December, the outcome of the battle remained uncertain.