President Donald J. Trump today visited a private Catholic school that benefits from Florida’s tuition tax credit program – a voucher scheme that diverts taxpayer dollars away from public schools.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposes voucher programs, including tuition tax credits, because they funnel desperately needed funding away from public schools and into private, mostly religious schools that lack accountability and often perform no better – and sometimes worse – than their public counterparts.
“The Trump administration is ignoring the overwhelming evidence that school voucher schemes don’t work,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Trump’s first presidential visit to a school should have been to one of the thousands of public schools that serve 90 percent of American children – not to a private religious school that siphons away tax dollars.”
Trump’s visit comes days after he touted his deceptively named “school choice” proposition during a joint session of Congress – the same day yet another study detailing the problems with voucher programs was released by the Economic Policy Institute.
Trump on Tuesday called education “the civil rights issue of our time.” But his proposed vouchers could be used at private schools that can discriminate against students, including LGBTQ pupils and those with disabilities. The vouchers also would allow tax dollars to be used at schools that teach religion as part of the curriculum.
AU says voucher schemes are poor education policy. As the EPI study found, they aren’t worth the risks to public schools.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.