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Religious Freedom

House Passes DC Voucher Amendment Despite Local Opposition

Press Release
Nathan Richter or Tarek Rizk
People For the American Way
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House Narrowly Approves DC Voucher Amendment, Revote Next Tuesday Possible

The House today passed an amendment to create a publicly funded, experimental voucher program for the District of Columbia public schools. The amendment passed 205-203, but voucher opponents in Congress have indicated that another vote on the amendment may occur next Tuesday, September 9. Under House rules, any member can demand a revote on an amendment prior to final passage of the bill.

“It is unfortunate that those House members who voted to pass this amendment do not have more respect for the wishes of DC residents,” said Neas. “Some members voted in support of vouchers for the District even though their own constituents have rejected vouchers in the past.”

In 2002, a majority of DC School Board and Council members passed resolutions opposing a voucher plan for the District of Columbia. D.C. residents have also soundly rejected vouchers in the past.

While Neas expressed disappointment at the outcome of today’s House vote, he believes that ultimately the DC voucher proposal will not become law.

“Whether it is a revote in the House or a vote before the full Senate, we believe that strong bipartisan opposition to DC vouchers will ensure this proposal does not become law,” said Neas. “We expect our elected officials to separate the fiction from the facts, to respect the wishes of DC residents, and to reject this voucher proposal. Anything less would be unfair to parents and their children. DC public school students need Congress to sincerely address their needs by providing them with quality teachers, smaller class sizes, and better facilities. In contrast, this voucher program neglects the vast majority of students by ignoring the real problems facing DC public schools.”

A number of studies, including those conducted by the U.S. Government Accounting Office, have shown that existing voucher programs do not improve student achievement. In addition, the DC voucher proposal lacks meaningful financial and academic accountability and allows for private schools to discriminate based upon religion, disability, gender, English language proficiency, academic performance, and religious-based discrimination.