WASHINGTON - The nation’s 51 million public school students were dealt a blow today by the Supreme Court’s extreme decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The National Education Association and its 3 million members decried the case from the start as a Betsy DeVos-supported scheme to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to religious and private schools. Ahead of oral arguments, NEA filed an amicus brief arguing the case before the court lacks legal merit and should be thrown out entirely.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“Let’s be clear about what we’ve witnessed with today’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue — an extreme Supreme Court just joined the far-right effort to undermine one of our country’s most cherished democratic institutions: public education. At a time when public schools nationwide already are grappling with protecting and providing for students despite a pandemic and mounting budget shortfalls, the court has made things even worse opening the door for further attacks on state decisions not to fund religious schools. The detrimental impact this decision will have on students throughout this country is shameful and unacceptable.
“For decades, Betsy DeVos has financed a methodical attack on the public schools that educate 90 percent of the nation’s children. The Espinoza decision narrows the bases on which states may refuse her calls to fund private religious schools. The court continues to use the Free Exercise clause to take down principled non-discriminatory state decisions not to fund certain types of private education. This is at odds with our federal system and endangers our public education system.
“If this country is serious about improving education, it must start with providing every public school student the resources and tools they need to succeed. Instead, DeVos’s voucher schemes divert already scarce dollars from neighborhood public schools and funnel those funds to private schools, which are neither nor accountable to taxpayers. DeVos’s myopic mission has nothing to do helping with students, but it has everything to do with privatizing public goods and services for private profit.
“In response to the coronavirus pandemic, educators have demonstrated two things: how much they care about their students and the lengths they will go to help them. Rest assured, educators will put that same level of energy into firing DeVos and electing a new president in November because it’s the best thing we can do for our students and for the future of this country.”
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