Monday, March 28, 2011

On March 30, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on tuition vouchers for Washington D.C.’s mostly-religious nonpublic schools.

The Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR), HR 471, S 206 says,
“Funds made available…shall not…necessitate  any change in the participating school’s teaching mission, require any…school to remove religious art, icons, scriptures, or other symbols, or…preclude any…school from…selecting its board members on a religious basis, or including religious references in its mission statements.…”
SOAR also allows religious schools to choose employees on a religious basis.
Under the Act, the tax-raised “funds made available” to a school are not “assistance” to it.
To create a veneer of constitutionality, SOAR says, “A scholarship (or any other form of support provided to parents of eligible students)…shall not be considered assistance to the school.…”
Parents supposedly get the “support,” but the funds are not “made available” to them.
The Act says, the voucher distributor must “make payments…to the parent…in a manner which ensures that such payments will be used for the payment of tuition, fees, and transportation expenses.…”
In a different provision, SOAR recognizes that the funds are not income for the parents.
It says, “The amount of any scholarship (or any other form of support provided to parents of eligible students)…shall not be treated as income of the parents for purposes of Federal tax laws or for determining eligibility for any other Federal program.”
Voucher advocates think students will learn more in nonpublic schools, but that didn’t happen in the defunct D.C. voucher program.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) ran from 2003 to 2010. The law required an independent investigator to evaluate the project.
In 2010, the investigator, the Institute of Education Sciences, wrote, “There is no conclusive evidence that the OSP affected student achievement.”
In the last year of evaluation, 80% of the children in the program attended religious schools.

No comments:

Post a Comment