We already know voucher-supported schools bust budgets and it’s only getting worse. Costs for vouchers have ballooned—the impact on state education budgets has expanded, and their initial cost projections have been consistently underestimated. More states are introducing and expanding voucher programs, and they are including more and more students, eating up more and more of the funds that could be spent on public schools.

What do they do with all these public dollars being bled from public schools? They preach—and practice—discrimination. Education Voters of Pennsylvania has pulled together a list of the ways voucher schools have discriminated in that state, and Illinois Families for Public Schools has done the same for Illinois—both make for bracing reading.  But what’s true for Illinois and Pennsylvania is true across the country.

Voucher schools can—and do—discriminate against LGBTQ students. The fact that voucher-taking schools openly discriminate against LGBT students, parents, and staff members has long been established—their statements of faith reside on their school websites alongside instructions on how to apply for public funding for tuition. A 2020 analysis by the Orlando Sentinel found that Florida’s voucher program funneled more than $129 million the previous year to religious institutions. Among them were “83 schools that refuse to admit LGBTQ students or could expel them if their sexual orientation or gender identity were discovered. Some also refuse to educate students whose parents are gay or to hire staff who are gay.”

Voucher schools can—and do—discriminate based on religion. The admissions requirements for voucher-supported Fayetteville Christian School in North Carolina state, “the parent and student must regularly fellowship in a local faith based, Bible believing church. Accordingly, FCS will not admit families that belong to or express faith in non-Christian religions such as, but not limited to: Mormons (LDS Church), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims (Islam), non-Messianic Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.” It’s not a surprise that a religion-based school wants to teach its religion—what should be alarming is that they use public money to do so.

Voucher schools can—and do—discriminate against students requiring special education attention. Unlike public schools, private schools, including those that are supported by the public through vouchers, are not required to provide educations for students with special needs. A Tennessee parent recently illustrated this in a powerful testimony to that state’s House of Representatives Government Operations Committee.

Voucher supported schools can—and do—teach students that women should not have the same rights as men.

Of the 27 Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod-associated schools, at least eight are supported with public funds through voucher programs. Among the synod’s beliefs:

Since God appointed the husband to be the head of the wife (Eph 5:23), the husband will love and care for his God-given wife (1 Pe 3:7). A wife will gladly accept the leadership of her husband as her God-appointed head (Eph 5:22-24).

In church assemblies the headship principle means that only men will cast votes when such votes exercise authority over men. Only men will do work that involves authority over men (1 Co 11:3-10; 14:33-35; 1 Ti 2:11,12).

 Women are encouraged to participate in offices and activities of the public ministry except where the work involves authority over men.

“Many families are surprised to learn about the options and come to realize a private, Christian education can be a reality!” states the website for Arizona Lutheran Academy, one of the synod’s schools. “It is rewarding to walk families through the tuition assistance process and see how God provides in ways that some never knew existed.”

Well, not God, exactly. All of us are paying for it with money intended for public schools.

Donald Cohen
Executive Director

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