We already know that spending tax dollars on private school vouchers amounts to stealing from public schools, but a report in Politico this week sheds some new details on just how bad this thievery has become. According to the article linked below, taxpayers in 14 states this year will spend nearly $1 billion in tuition for private schools, including many religious schools that teach creationism, a science alternative that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional for teaching in public schools.
None of that $1 billion is being spent on private schools in Texas, at least so far. But many of our tax dollars are being diverted from neighborhood schools to charter schools that officially are considered “public” but generate profits for private operators.
About 250,000 students in other states are attending religious and other private schools at taxpayer expense either through direct voucher payments or more indirect schemes, such as tax-credit scholarships, which still siphon tax dollars from public schools, Politico reports. That number is still just a small fraction of the 55 million public school students in the United States, but it is a 30 percent increase from 2010.
This year, 26 states are considering the creation of new voucher programs or expanding existing ones. One bill pending before the Arizona Legislature would make more than 70 percent of that state’s students eligible for vouchers. And, some prominent Republicans in Congress are pushing for voucher funding on the federal level.
The Texas Legislature is not in session this year, but voucher advocates are likely to be back in force when lawmakers convene next January, trying to disguise their tax-grab schemes as parental “choice.”
In religious schools benefitting from tax dollars, students are hearing a lot of positives about Adam and Eve and a lot of negatives about Charles Darwin, if they are hearing about Darwin at all. According to Politico, one science education activist has identified more than 300 creationist schools receiving tax subsidies.
“I don’t think the function of public education is to prepare students for the turn of the 19th century,” Eric Meikle of the National Center for Science Education has correctly pointed out. Unfortunately, though, legislators in many states aren’t listening to him.