People for the American Way President Carole Shields Thursday criticized the U.S. Senate's vote to divert public tax dollars to private and religious schools and called upon President Clinton to veto the legislation.
"This Coverdell scheme undermines America's commitment to our children," Shields said. "Across the country, Americans are finding and taking effective steps to improve our public schools. Local communities are strengthening public schools by improving teacher training, reducing class size, modernizing schools, raising academic standards, making schools safer, and increasing parental involvement. These positive school reforms are succeeding in school districts across America."
"The U.S. Senate today passed legislation that does nothing to build on these local reforms or to address public schools' underlying problems," Shields said. "Instead, it passed a scheme that ultimately will divert tax dollars to private and religious schools. This is a tragic waste of time, energy and resources that could be used to improve public education for all kids."
"Coverdell's scheme is dead on arrival. President Clinton should veto these misguided tax breaks to the wealthy. The truth is that this bill would only help those wealthy enough to afford the tuition costs of private and religious schools to begin with," Shields continued. "Families with low incomes generally can't afford to set aside $2,500 a year in tax-sheltered accounts; nor would that truly pay for all of the costs associated with private education."
"The real way to solve America's educational problems is to commit resources to public schools, where 90 percent of America's children are educated. Coverdell's proposal is out of touch with the real goals America has for public schools: fairness, accountability and results."