Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been touring the country to promote her plan to hand over billion of dollars in federal tax credits to dramatically expand the number of students attending private schools, religious schools, or even being homeschooled. The program, part of a bill in Congress, would be funded through private donations in exchange for tax credits. In other words, tax dollars would effectively be paying for the program, as those dollars will have to be made up by taxpayers.
DeVos’ “Education Freedom Scholarships” program would continue the Trump administration’s blurring of the lines between church and state. Just last week Sec. DeVos announced the Dept. of Education will no longer ban religious organizations from being funded with taxpayer dollars for secular projects.
The Dept. of Education claims up to $5 billion annually could be allocated, but Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who spoke at an event with DeVos to roll out his bill to support the program (video below), said it would be $10 billion.
The reception at Sec. DeVos’ stop in Iowa appeared less than enthusiastic.
“Pitching her proposal to fund scholarships for private school and home-schooled students, federal education secretary Betsy DeVos met behind closed doors Friday with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state leaders and lobbyists,” Iowa’s Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.
The Iowa paper notes that Waterloo Community Schools’ Superintendent Jane Lindaman was “the lone public education representative invited to participate,” and described her as being “concerned.”
“I was surprised by the imbalance of people at this meeting today,” Lindaman told the Courier. “Out of 14 people, I was the only public school advocate. I quickly realized the responsibility and, quite honestly, the burden of speaking for the hundreds of thousands of kids who are in public education in Iowa.”
Here’s a local news report from Alabama last month that features DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz, a big home schooling advocate, promoting his bill and the Secretary’s program. Cruz endorses the federal government effectively paying for private and religious education, calling it a “civil rights issue.”
In 2015 Sen. Cruz spoke with homeschooling parents, telling them LGBT people are waging “jihad” on Christianity.
IMAGE: Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing to be next Secretary of Education on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas