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Letter to the full House Opposing Military Vouchers

May 24, 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 a floor amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.  Votes 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.  Families accepting such vouchers and sending their children to private schools would, in fact, lose important rights provided under IDEA to protect students with disabilities. 

In addition, our nation’s Department of Defense schools offer an excellent education.  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, 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. 

Again, we strongly your opposition to this proposal. 

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson         
Director of Government Relations     

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy