AU Commends Senate For Rejecting DC School Voucher Proposal

Public Funds Should Not Be Used To Subsidize Religious Schools, Says AU's Lynn

Americans United for Separation of Church and State applauds the Senate's decision today to reject an amendment reauthorizing Washington, D.C.'s controversial school voucher program.

In a 55-42 vote, the Senate shot down Sen. Joseph Lieberman's amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration bill that would have reauthorized the D.C. school voucher program. The voucher plan was intended to only be a five-year experiment when it passed Congress in 2004, but despite being a failure, a few still wanted to see the flawed and disastrous program continue.

"I'm happy the Senate finally saw through this program for what it really is," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United's executive director. "Not only has the program failed to boost achievement among its targeted population, it also has forced taxpayers to support religious schools against their will.

"Using tax money to funnel a small percentage of D.C. students into religious schools isn't an answer, it's a cop-out," Lynn said. "We need a solution that helps every student in the nation's capital. This voucher scheme isn't it.

"Let's hope D.C. vouchers are off the table once and for all," he concluded. "Now, we can put our tax dollars where they belong: into the D.C. public schools."

Prior to the Senate vote, Americans United sent a letter to every senator, urging them to reject the amendment. D.C. vouchers have not improved achievement, have not used funds effectively, have not provided opportunities for students in "schools in need of improvement" and have not helped improve public schools. On all accounts, the letter asserted, reauthorizing the program would have been unjustified.

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.