Hello! My name is _______, and I am a constituent of Rep. __________'s in ____________, California. I am calling to ask her/him to oppose HB 610, which would require states to implement a school voucher system, abolish nutritional standards for school meals, and eliminate provisions that ensure equality in education to those with special needs and other disadvantages. Vouchers take money away from public schools and put it in the hands of religious organizations and for-profit businesses. The bill would be disastrous for California's education system, forcing the state to end its policy of sending a higher percentage of federal dollars to schools that serve high-needs children. Beyond its immediate consequences, HB610 would be a major step toward dismantling public education. Thank you!
The "Choices in Education Act," proposed by Iowa Republican Steve King, would fulfill President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos' quest to federally fund school voucher programs -- and it would do it by replacing the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Instead of the rigorously regulated system of federal funding for public schools that has prevailed since then, HR 610 would repeal all of these regulations and programs and offer the money to states in the form of block grants -- with a mandate that they distribute a portion of the funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school (80% of which, nationwide, are religious schools) or to home-school their child.
The efficacy of voucher programs has been debated for decades. Research on their effectiveness, even for those students who benefit from them, is inconclusive. For the students who remain in public schools with less funding, vouchers are a disaster. They also blur the line between church and state by providing tax dollars to private religious schools -- and under HB610, such schools that accept vouchers will be subject to government oversight that clearly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Even advocates of home schooling have announced opposition to HB610 because it compromises their autonomy. Meanwhile, vouchers distributed on a level, per-pupil basis will not help families with lower incomes, with special needs, or in areas without private-school options obtain the same educational choices as those in upper-income brackets (who are less likely to have their children in public schools anyway).
Beyond vouchers, King's bill would eviscerate regulations implemented in 2012 that established nutrition standards for U.S. school lunch and breakfast programs -- mandating that schools offer a balance of fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk, whole grains and lean protein with every meal, and limit sodium, calories and unhealthy fats.