Public funds should not support parochial schools, either directly or indirectly through voucher programs. Vouchers provide citizens with direct funding to apply to private school tuitions. Scholarship funds and other tax deduction programs fund private religious institutions indirectly by allowing taxpayers to claim tax credits on their personal income taxes, reducing the amount paid to the state and shifting the money to the private school of the taxpayerÔÇÖs choice. Both programs allow for the public funding of religious educations. Seventy-six percent of private schools in America have a religious affiliation, serving 80 percent of private school students; ┬áthus, vouchers are primarily subsidies for religious schools. In 2001, in Zelman v Harris, a closely divided Supreme Court rejected an Establishment Clause challenge to vouchers. The Secular Coalition believes Zelman was wrongly decided and stresses that the Court ruled only on the constitutionality of voucher programs, rather than their wisdom or unintended consequences in a pluralistic nation.
Private schools receiving public funds through voucher programs are not subject to all federal civil rights laws and do not face the same public accountability standards public schools must meet, including those in Title IX, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act. Although a portion of publicly funded vouchers pay for staffing costs, private school employment practices are not subject to anti-discrimination laws.
POLICY RECOMMENDATION: Taxpayer money for education should never fund a religious education or religious education institution.