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Letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee Opposing Reported Proposals to Provide Vouchers for Military Families

June 11, 2009

Dear Senator:


On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our strong opposition to proposals reportedly under consideration in the Armed Services Committee to provide private school vouchers for military families.

Vouchers are not real education reform.  Pulling children out of the public school system doesn’t solve problems — it ignores them.  Real reform will put a qualified teacher in every classroom, keep their skills up to date with continuing education, and raise pay to attract and retain the best teachers. 

Proponents of a military family voucher program have cited the District of Columbia voucher program as a model.  However, the DC voucher pilot program, which is set to expire this year, has been a failure.  In fact, over its five year span, the pilot program has yielded no evidence of positive impact on student achievement. 

Vouchers are clearly not the right solution to ensure every student the highest quality education.  Voucher schools are permitted to maintain their admissions standards and can reject any public school student they choose.  They can reject students based on prior academic achievement and on the basis of gender.  Students with special needs often cannot find a private school that can serve them.  In contrast, public schools serve all students who come through their doors. 

Providing vouchers for 750,000 students in military families stationed in the United States would be a huge expense.  These resources would be much better spent on to ensure ALL children the highest quality education.  The U.S. Department of Education has created the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) clearinghouse to help school districts, educators, parents, and other stakeholders choose programs that have been proven effective.  A brief review of their database revealed dozens of programs that have been scientifically proven effective at improving student achievement in reading and math, at increasing the likelihood of students staying in school and completing their education, and at improving the language and achievement of English language learners.  We have attached examples of these programs for your information. 

Again, we urge your opposition to any proposals to create a private school voucher program for military families.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy