Tomorrow is President Donald J. Trump’s 100th day in office. Although he campaigned on his 100-day “Contract with the American Voter,” he no longer seems enthusiastic about the milestone. Perhaps that’s because he is facing criticism for failing to achieve any major legislative victories. One thing he has accomplished: He has caused real harm to religious freedom and has made promises to do even more.
Nearly 20 years ago, Betsy DeVos and her husband were the primary funders of an effort to strip the Michigan Constitution’s no-aid clause – the provision that ensures the government doesn’t funnel taxpayer dollars to religious institutions, including private religious schools. Their goal: remove the constitutional barrier to implementation of a private school voucher program.
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.
President Donald J. Trump visited a Catholic school in Orlando today for what has been described as a “listening session” on “school choice.” In other words, a rally for private school vouchers.
Trump, kids in school uniforms, and claims about widespread success of a government program may make for good political theater. But, “alternative facts” and anecdotes are a terrible basis for policy. The truth is that vouchers masquerading as “school choice” are a failure.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been criticized for having no experience in public education, and now she is proving she doesn’t understand the history of the “school choice” schemes she so eagerly embraces.
President Donald J. Trump has named Religious Right favorite son Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead a committee tasked with finding ways to deregulate higher education.
Falwell, president of the fundamentalist Liberty University his father founded in Virginia, was an early supporter of Trump’s presidency. Falwell previously said he was offered but declined the position of secretary of education, a job that instead went to school privatization proponent Betsy DeVos. The task force will work under the direction of the U.S. Department of Education.
Americans United joined a band of allies through the National Coalition for Public Education to push back against the private-school voucher schemes that are promoted during National School Choice Week.
Americans United and other advocates of church-state separation put up a spirited fight, but voucher advocate Betsy DeVos was confirmed as U.S. secretary of education Feb. 7.
It was a close vote. The Senate tied 50-50 on DeVos, and she got the job only because Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie. It was the first time in history that a cabinet secretary appointee received a tie vote.
School privatization proponent Betsy DeVos is the new secretary of education, but her confirmation process likely was rockier than President Donald J. Trump anticipated.
Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, citing concerns about DeVos’ lack of qualifications for the job, broke party lines and joined all 48 members of the Democratic caucus in opposing DeVos’ nomination.