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AHA Joins Coalition Opposing DC School Voucher Program

April 19, 2019
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On Thursday the American Humanist Affiliation joined 45 different members of the Nationwide Coalition for Public Schooling in opposing continued funding for the DC faculty voucher program. Congress shouldn’t proceed to allocate hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to an unsuccessful and poorly managed program.

Learn the letter sent to the Home and Senate Appropriations Committees under or obtain a PDF.


Nationwide Coalition for Public Schooling

April 18, 2019

The Honorable Mike Quigley
Chair, Home Appropriations Financial Providers and Common Government Subcommittee
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Tom Graves
Ranking Member, House Appropriations Monetary Providers and Basic Authorities Subcommittee
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable John Kennedy
Chair, Senate Appropriations Monetary Providers and Common Government Subcommittee
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Christopher Coons
Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Monetary Providers and Common Authorities Subcommittee
Washington, DC 20510

RE: Do Not Fund or Reauthorize the Failing D.C. School Voucher Program

Pricey Chairman Quigley, Rating Member Graves, Chairman Kennedy, and Rating Member Coons:

The 46 undersigned members of the Nationwide Coalition for Public Schooling (NCPE) write to voice opposition to the reauthorization or continued funding of the District of Columbia personal faculty voucher program in the FY 2020 Monetary Providers and Basic Government Appropriations bill. We oppose this and all personal faculty voucher packages as a result of public funds ought to be spent on public faculties, not personal faculties. The D.C. program, particularly, has confirmed ineffective and unaccountable to taxpayers. Congress shouldn’t continue to allocate tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to an unsuccessful and poorly managed program, and it shouldn’t permit this spending bill to incorporate reauthorization of this system, as it has executed up to now.

The Program Does Not Improve Instructional Opportunities for Students

A number of Congressionally mandated Department of Schooling studies of the D.C. voucher program have demonstrated that this system doesn’t enhance the tutorial achievement of students in the program.1 Actually, the two most up-to-date Division of Schooling studies of this system reveal that students using vouchers are performing worse academically than their friends not in the voucher program.2

The current research have also found that the voucher program has no effect on scholar or parental satisfaction, or on parental involvement.three And, previous studies have indicated that most of the students within the voucher program are much less more likely to have entry to key providers akin to ESL packages, learning supports, special schooling supports and providers, and counselors than college students who are usually not part of this system.4 Moreover, a research from the Urban Institute found that receiving a voucher doesn’t improve D.C. students’ school enrollment charges.5

Having failed to improve the tutorial achievement and faculty expertise of the students within the voucher program, the program clearly does not warrant continuation.

The Program Lacks Adequate Oversight and Accountability

The program has also repeatedly failed to satisfy accountability requirements. GAO stories from both 2007 and 2013 doc that the D.C. voucher program has repeatedly failed to satisfy primary and even statutorily required accountability measures.6 The 2013 report concluded that the then- administrator of this system, the D.C. Youngsters and Youth Funding Belief Corporation (Trust), had regularly failed to make sure this system operated with primary accountability measures and high quality controls7 and failed to take care of satisfactory data by itself monetary accounting.8 The interim government director of the Belief even admitted that “quality oversight of the program is sort of a dead zone, a blind spot.”9 These problems persist even with a brand new program

administrator. In 2015, the new administrator of the program, Serving our Youngsters, was unable to offer primary program info to this committee, resembling what proportion of each voucher faculty’s population comprised students utilizing a voucher.10

Many Collaborating Faculties Are of Poor High quality

A special investigation carried out by the Washington Submit found that most of the personal faculties in the program usually are not high quality faculties.11 It described one faculty that consisted totally of voucher students as present in simply two lecture rooms in “a soot-stained storefront” where students used a gymnasium two miles down the street.12 One other voucher faculty was operated out of a personal converted house with amenities so unkempt that students had to make use of restrooms in an unaffiliated daycare middle downstairs.13 And yet one more faculty, where 93% of the students had vouchers, used a “learning model known as “Suggestopedia,” an obscure Bulgarian philosophy of learning that stresses studying by way of music, stretching and meditation.”14

Poor quality faculties have doubtless contributed to the D.C. voucher program’s declining enrollment rates. As of the 2016-17 faculty yr, this system enrolled 30% fewer college students than it did 4 years earlier than, regardless of an general improve in candidates.15 And program statistics reveal that for that faculty yr, one-third of returning voucher college students did not use their voucher and more than half of the brand new college students who acquired a voucher did not use it.16 Declining enrollment charges are additional evidence that this system’s continuation is unwarranted.

The Voucher Program Endangers Civil Rights and Undermines Constitutional Protections

Despite receiving public funds, the personal faculties collaborating within the D.C. voucher program do not abide by all federal civil rights laws and public accountability standards, together with those in Title VI, Title IX, the Individuals with Disabilities Schooling Act (IDEA), Title II of the People with Disabilities Act and the Elementary and Secondary Schooling Act (ESEA), that each one public faculties must meet. College students who attend personal faculties with vouchers are stripped of their First Amendment, due process, and different constitutional and statutory rights offered to them in public faculties. Faculties that do not present students with these primary civil rights protections should not be funded with taxpayer dollars.

Conclusion

The findings of all the above referenced objective studies do not help spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds on the D.C. personal faculty voucher program. For these reasons and more, NCPE opposes the reauthorization or continued funding of the D.C. voucher program within the FY 2020 FSGG Appropriations invoice.

Thanks on your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

AASA, The School Superintendents Association
African American Ministers In Action
American Association of College Ladies (AAUW)
American Atheists
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Federation of School Directors (AFSA), AFL-CIO
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Staff (AFSCME)
American Federation of Academics, AFL-CIO
American Humanist Association
People for Spiritual Liberty
People United for Separation of Church and State
Anti-Defamation League
Affiliation of Instructional Service Businesses
Affiliation of School Enterprise Officers International
Baptist Joint Committee for Spiritual Liberty
Middle for Inquiry
Clearinghouse On Ladies’s Issues
Council for Distinctive Youngsters
Council of Directors of Special Schooling
Council of the Great Metropolis Faculties
Feminist Majority Foundation
Freedom From Religion Foundation
GLSEN
Interfaith Alliance
Legal professionals’ Committee for Civil Rights Underneath Regulation
Learning Disabilities Affiliation of America
NAACP
Nationwide Association of Elementary School Principals
Nationwide Affiliation of Federally Impacted Faculties
Nationwide Affiliation of Secondary School Principals
Nationwide Middle for Studying Disabilities
National Council of Jewish Ladies
National Disability Rights Network
Nationwide Schooling Association
National Group for Ladies
Nationwide PTA
Nationwide Rural Schooling Advocacy Collaborative
National Rural Schooling Affiliation
National School Boards Association
Network for Public Schooling
Individuals For the American Approach
Public Funds Public Faculties
School Social Work Affiliation of America
Secular Coalition for America
Union for Reform Judaism
Washington Legal professionals’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs


1 U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the D.C. Alternative Scholarship Program: Impacts Two Years After Students Utilized (June 2018) (2018 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report); U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Evaluation of the D.C. Alternative Scholarship Program: Impacts After One Yr (June 2017) (2017 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report); U.S. Dep’t of Ed., Analysis of the D.C. Scholarship Program: Ultimate Report (June 2010) (2010 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report); U.S. Dep’t of Ed., Evaluation of the D.C. Scholarship Program: Influence After three Years (Apr. 2009) (2009 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report); U.S. Dep’t of Ed., Analysis of the D.C. Scholarship Program: Impression After 2 Years (June 2008) (2008 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report); U.S. Dep’t of Ed., Evaluation of the D.C. Scholarship Program: Impression After 1 Yr (June 2007) (2007 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report).

2 2018 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report at 19.

3Id. at 26, 30; 2017 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report at 18, 21.

4 2010 U.S. Dep’t of Educ. Report at 20; 2009 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xxii, 17; 2008 US Dep’t of Educ. Report at xviii, 16.

5 Matthew Chingos, City Institute, The Effect of the D.C. School Voucher Program on School Enrollment (Feb. 2018).

6 U.S. Gov’t Accountability Office, District of Columbia Alternative Scholarship Program: Actions Needed to Tackle Weaknesses in Administration and Oversight, Publication No. GAO-13-805 (Nov. 2013) http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658416.pdf (2013 GAO Report); US Gov’t Accountability Workplace, District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Further Policies and Procedures Would Improve Inner Controls and Program Operations, Pub. No. 08-9 at 26 (Nov. 2007) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d089.pdf (2007 GAO Report).

7 2013 GAO Report at 19-26.

8Id. at 28.

9 Lyndsey Layton, D.C. School Voucher Program Lacks Oversight, GAO Says, Wash. Publish (Nov. 15, 2013).

10Reauthorizing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: Hearing before the S. Comm. on Homeland Security and Authorities Affairs, 114th Congress (2015) (testimony of Kevin Chavous, Serving Our Youngsters).

11 Lyndsey Layton, D.C. School Voucher Program Lacks Oversight, GAO Says, Wash. Publish (Nov. 15, 2013).

12Id. (revealing particulars about Academia de la Recta Porta).

13Id. (discussing Muhammad College of Islam, which enrolled one-third voucher college students).

14Id. (discussing the Academy for Perfect Schooling).

15 Phyllis W. Jordan and Kendell Lengthy, FutureEd, Vouchers In D.C.: Why Families Aren’t Selecting Vouchers (Aug. 2017).

16 Id. at 3.