To the Editor:
Bruno Manno’s “The New Marketplace of School Choice” (Dec. 1, 2010) was a disingenuous propaganda slam at our public schools and our basic constitutional principle that government must not compel taxpayers to support religious institutions.
The Commentary neglected to mention that whenever voters have had the chance to vote on school vouchers or tax-code vouchers (tuition tax credits) or other schemes to divert public funds to faith-based private schools, 27 times in statewide referendums from coast to coast, they have rejected such plans by landslide margins. Several states have tax-code voucher plans because citizens were not given the opportunity to vote on them.
Mr. Manno hides the facts that charter schools have been shown in many studies to be, on balance, no improvement over public schools; that nonpublic schools separate children by religion, race, ethnicity, class, ideology, and degree of disability; that shifting children to nonpublic schools downgrades the teaching profession; and that expanding tax support for nonpublic schools can only harm that great American institution, the publicly controlled public school.
Yes, we need to improve our public schools, but promoting private schools is not the way to do it.
As a senior adviser for the Walton Family Foundation, which has long poured money into campaigns for school vouchers, Mr. Manno is hardly a disinterested scholar.
Americans for Religious Liberty
Silver Spring, Md.
A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2011 edition of Education Week as Commentary Unfairly Slammed Public Schools