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Letter to House Armed Services Committee Opposing a Voucher Amendment

May 11, 2011

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we strongly urge your opposition to a deeply troubling private school voucher provision expected to be offered as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill at this week’s mark-up.  Votes in committee on this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress. 

The provision in question would authorize private school vouchers for students with special needs in military families.  The proposal is completely unnecessary, as current law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act already provides for complete services for students with special needs.  This includes covering the cost of private school if necessary to ensure full services.  In addition, our nation’s Department of Defense schools offer an excellent education – as evidenced by their students’ high test scores, including among poor and minority populations.  Military personnel consistently rate DoDDS schools as excellent and cite the education available for their dependents as a strong benefit of military service.

On a larger scale, the proposal reflects bad public policy.  As Congress is proposing drastic reductions in federal spending, including a House-passed bill slashing billions from core education programs, there is no reason to divert scarce resources to vouchers.  It is simply wrong to consider funneling taxpayer dollars to private schools while cutting programs that help millions of students in public schools. 

Vouchers are not real education reform.  Our focus should be on strategies proven to increase student achievement, such as increasing parental involvement, strengthening teacher training, and reducing class size.  And, our goal should be to prepare all students for the jobs of the future, not to allow a few students and parents to choose a private school at taxpayer expense. 

When public schools are struggling and teachers are being laid off, the last thing we need is to spend scarce taxpayer funds on private schools. Again, we strongly your opposition to this proposal. 

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson           
Director of Government Relations

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy