Bush Voucher Plan Threatens Public Schools, Taxpayers' Rights, Says Watchdog Group

Scheme Would Subsidize Religious Schools With Public Funds, AU's Lynn Charges

A Bush administration plan to subsidize religious and other private schools in the District of Columbia would threaten public education and violate taxpayers' rights, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

 

The Washington Post reported today that the administration's budget will propose funds for a "pilot" voucher program in Washington, D.C.

 

The move drew fire from supporters of public schools and church-state separation.

 

"This plan would divert public funds from public schools to religious schools," said Barry Lynn, Americans United executive director. "It's exactly the wrong move at the wrong time. Public schools in our nation's capital need more help, not less."

 

Because tuition at most secular private schools in the District is exorbitant, any voucher program would almost certainly wind up subsidizing mostly religious schools.

 

"This scheme would force taxpayers to pay for religious indoctrination," Lynn charged. "That's unfair and an intrusion into all Americans' right to support only the religious institutions of their free choice."

 

Referenda and public opinion polls repeatedly show that the vast majority of Americans want their tax dollars to support improvements in the public schools, not subsidies for religious and other private schools. Voters in the District of Columbia voted down a voucher-style program on the ballot there in 1981 by an astounding 89-11 percent margin.

 

AU's Lynn charged that the voucher proposal is just the latest effort by the Bush administration to turn over public services to "faith-based" groups.

 

This administration clearly has no regard for the separation of church and state," Lynn said. "Americans need to speak out in opposition to the Bush 'faith-based' crusade."

           

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.

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.