White House Voucher Plan Sacrifices Public Education for Religious Indoctrination, Warns CFI

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

The Center for Inquiry today condemned the Trump Administration’s proposal to divert up to $1 billion in taxpayer funds to private religious schools.

The President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2019 proposes $1 billion for private school vouchers, four times the amount he requested for a similar scheme in 2018.

School voucher programs siphon taxpayer money from public schools to fund the education of a relative few students in largely religiously affiliated private schools. These schools are given enormous leeway to discriminate against LGBTQ, nonreligious, and disabled students, and families forfeit their due process rights upon entering private schools.

“We should invest in our public education system that serves all students, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof,” said Jason Lemieux. “In a budget proposal that claims to be ‘efficient, effective, and accountable,’ it is hypocritical to gift a billion dollars to unaccountable, discriminatory religious schools. Public dollars should go to public schools.”

“This administration is falling over itself to please the religious right, and this time it is to encourage parents to remove their children from pluralistic and secular public schools to enroll them instead in schools designed to indoctrinate children into religious beliefs,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Voucher schemes benefit only a small number of students with no meaningful improvement in educational outcomes. What they also do is promote a divided America, where children go to school with only those who share their parents’ religious beliefs.

“Public schools are tremendous incubators for tolerance, especially religious tolerance, where children interact with others from different faith traditions and no faith at all. The United States has escaped religious strife in part due to this system. Unfortunately the administration is looking to undermine what has worked so well for so long.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.