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House Vote of D.C. School Vouchers Program Alarming

Pelavin: "The passage of the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act...by the House of Representatives is alarming both from the standpoint of our nation's long commitment to separation of church and state and to public education."

Contact: Eric Harris or Jonathan Backer
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 30, 2011 -- In response to the passage of the Scholarship Opportunities and Results (SOAR) Act, H.R. 471, by the House of Representatives, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The passage of the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, H.R. 471, by the House of Representatives is alarming both from the standpoint of our nation's long commitment to public education and to separation of church and state. This legislation, if adopted, would revive the D.C. school vouchers program by allowing new students to enroll in the program. Vouchers divert money from those public schools that are most in need of additional assistance.

Repeated studies have also shown that they fail to improve academic performance for those students who participate in the program. A 2010 evaluation of the D.C. voucher program conducted by the Department of Education found that there was no significant difference in the overall academic achievement of students in the voucher program as compared to students in D.C. public schools. Moreover, when vouchers are used toward expenses related to private, including religious, school education, they become an indirect government funding of sectarian institutions.

We urge Senators to oppose their chamber's version of the legislation (S. 206) and to support high-quality public education for all students in the District of Columbia.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.



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