Washington, D.C. – In response to the inclusion of a rider in the 2011 budget negotiation that will reinstate the Washington, D.C. school voucher program and allow it to accept additional students, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
I was disappointed to see not only the District of Columbia, but innocent school children, become pawns in the contentious negotiation over the federal budget last week. The inclusion of a provision that not only extends the flawed and failed D.C. school voucher program, but allows for new students to be admitted and millions of tax payer dollars to flow to private religious schools clearly violates the boundaries between institutions of religion and government. Though religious schools provide an important service to many students and families, Interfaith Alliance adamantly believes that public funds should not go to private religious schools or to any educational institutions that may discriminate against students and teachers based on religion.
Vouchers create unnecessary entanglement between the institutions of religion and government. This is especially true in the District of Columbia where we know from Department of Education studies that roughly 82 percent of students participating in the voucher program use these tax payer funds to attend religious schools. As we have since we were founded, we will fight in the halls of Congress and in our communities to ensure that voucher programs for sectarian schools are eliminated, not expanded.
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.