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Resolutions & Amendments

34th International Convention - Philadelphia (2000)

School Vouchers

Resolution No. 11
34th International Convention
June 26 - 30, 2000
Philadelphia, PA


School voucher plans (or funding formulas or tax-subsidized savings plans that have the same effect as vouchers) are just a form of privatization. These programs take money out of the public school system to fund private education. Voucher plans undermine public education, reduce the support needed to adequately fund public education, and have the potential for racial, economic, and social segregation of children; and


The available data suggests serious problems with vouchers. There is no evidence that vouchers improve student learning. Parental choice is a misnomer. Private school admissions offices make the choice of which students to admit or reject. Most students using vouchers have never attended public schools. The American people consistently reject vouchers at the polls; and


The first school voucher program in the United States was begun in 1989 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to an audit performed by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau in February 2000, the success or failure of the Milwaukee private school voucher program could not be accurately measured because uniform testing is not required in participating schools. It was also not possible to determine whether the schools meet the needs of special needs students because participating schools are not required to share that information. Previous formal evaluations found no evidence that the voucher program had improved the academic performance of participating students. A 1999 investigation into the admissions procedures and other practices of a number of Milwaukee schools participating in the voucher program uncovered serious, persistent violations of students' rights under the voucher law; and


Cleveland was the second school system in the U.S. to begin a voucher program. In December 1999, a federal judge barred the program for violating the constitutional separation of church and state. The judge said that "the program had the effect of advancing religion through government-supported religious indoctrination." An appeal is pending; and


Florida was the first state to attempt a statewide voucher program. In March 2000, a Florida judge threw out the program, ruling that it was unconstitutional. The judge said that tax dollars should not be used to send the children of Florida to private schools; and


A variety of voucher proposals have come before the U.S. Congress. These bills, however, do not use the term "voucher." They refer to "opportunity scholarships" or "certificates" or "educational savings accounts" to disguise their intent. Regardless of the label, these bills seek to replicate with public dollars the failed experiments in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Florida. These bills would reduce civil rights protections for students in voucher schools, lower standards by allowing new schools to be opened by inexperienced operators, and permit voucher schools to reject students selectively; and


These voucher proposals would represent a massive drain on federal, state and local treasuries. Limited public funds could be more effectively invested in major federal education programs designed to help children in public schools.


That AFSCME strongly opposes any effort to establish and/or implement voucher plans, or any other program with the same effect, as an attempt to divert public resources to support private education at a time when we need to do all we can to improve our public schools; and


That AFSCME will oppose any legislation at the state or federal level that would authorize school vouchers in any form or any ballot initiatives which would create such programs.



Albert Garrett, President and Delegate
Lawrence A. Roehrig, Secretary-Treasurer and Delegate
AFSCME Council 25