Two weeks after we wrote this, little has changed. The Senate has not moved on substantive relief legislation for schools impacted by the recent hurricanes, bogged down by the insistence of some that vouchers, or similar payments to private schools, be included in any package. NSBA has said for two months that we oppose turning needed relief aid into a vehicle for creating the largest, costliest voucher plan in U.S. history. Here is our statement and letter on the latest proposal, S. 1904, put forward by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.).
NSBA has suggested lawmakers follow existing federal law, specifically the equitable participation component of Title I that provides private schools with educational services (but not the thorny issue of federal dollars), in order to provide private schools with hurricane relief. “By taking such action the Senate could overcome the current stalemate that has delayed the help that school districts, especially those in the Gulf Coast, desperately need, would ensure that all students impacted by the hurricanes continue to have access to the quality education they deserve, and that taxpayers have the clear accountability they deserve for how their dollars are spent,” NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant said.
In the House, the chair of the education committee, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has introduced H.R. 4097, which includes a private school voucher proposal tied to a hurricane relief package for public schools. Here is NSBA’s letter on that bill.