This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on two amendments to the reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act that would have permitted federal tax dollars to be used for private school vouchers. The first amendment, which failed by a vote of 155-to-273, would have created vouchers through the Title I program for children in public schools that are deemed “failing.” The second amendment, which failed 186-to-241, would have created voucher demonstration projects in five public school districts.
Statement by Ralph G. Neas,
president of People For the American Way,
on today’s House votes opposing vouchers
“Today, America’s children were the winners when the House of Representatives voted to defeat both of these voucher amendments. The amendments were rejected decisively, losing by an average of 86 votes. The fact that these amendments were so overwhelmingly defeated is amazing when you consider that both amendments were sponsored by the House Republican leadership. But House members know who’s really in charge, and they know that the people who elected them don’t want vouchers.
“In fact, the voters have rejected vouchers in every statewide initiative ever held on the issue. Just last November, voters in Michigan and California said ‘no’ to vouchers. Exit polls in these states showed that African American and Latino voters rejected vouchers by huge margins. Voucher supporters are increasingly desperate and feel that the only way to gain the upper hand is to try to force vouchers on an unwilling public.
“There is no real evidence that vouchers work. Better yet, we know what does work. This is why we should support reforms that strengthen and improve public schools—reforms such as smaller classes, full funding of Title I and better preparation of teachers in the classroom. Nine out of 10 school-age children attend public schools. That’s where our nation should focus its attention. As the Senate considers amendments on the education bill, we hope they will follow the House and the people’s lead by rejecting vouchers in favor of reforms that work.”