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Giving taxpayer money to private schools is not education reform

NEA urges Congress to invest in student improvement strategies that work

WASHINGTON - March 30, 2011 -

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation that would expand the failed District of Columbia private school voucher program. The Scholarships for Opportunity Results (SOAR) Act, H.R. 471, would provide millions of taxpayer dollars to help students attend private schools. The National Education Association (NEA) strongly opposes funneling taxpayer dollars to private schools while cutting programs that help public school students. 

“It is wrong to divert millions of taxpayer dollars to help a few students attend private schools, said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  "There is absolutely no reason to spend taxpayer money on vouchers at a time when Congress is proposing drastic reductions in federal education spending, including cutting close to $700 million for Title I and reducing Head Start funding by over $1 billion. This legislation would help fewer than 1,500 students in Washington, D.C. attend private schools, while ignoring the needs of the majority of public school students in the District.  Instead of taking money away from public schools to support private schools, Congress should be investing more in improvement strategies that will benefit all students." 

Van Roekel said private school vouchers do not represent education reform. He urged Congress to focus on proven strategies that work to improve learning for all students. "We know that increasing parental involvement, strengthening teacher training and reducing class size improve student learning," he said. "These challenging economic times require Congress to be prudent with taxpayer funds. Our goal must be to prepare all of our students for the jobs of the future, not just a few students whose parents can afford private school tuition. The bottom line: Congress should not be subsidizing private schools at taxpayer expense."   

The Congressional Budget Office has scored the Scholarships for Opportunity Results (SOAR) Act and estimates that the bill would cost taxpayers $300 million over five years.

"Our public schools are already being challenged by education layoffs and fewer resources as they continue the work of preparing our students for the future," Van Roekel said. "This is not the time to spend scarce taxpayer funds on private schools. We need our elected leaders to stand up for public school students and use taxpayer money to fund programs and strategies that we know will work for our students and the nation."  


The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: René Carter  202-822-7494,