To the Editor:
The Bush administration’s plan to allot $488 million to pay for Hurricane Katrina evacuee children to attend private, mainly faith-based schools for a year (“Relief Plans Spurring Debate Over Vouchers,” Sept. 28, 2005) is a cynical, opportunistic attempt to use hurricane victims as a wedge to promote the religious right’s goal of making taxpayers support discriminatory, pervasively sectarian private schools.
Louisiana citizens made clear last year in an opinion poll by The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s newspaper, that they oppose vouchers by 60 percent to 34 percent, with opposition in every region of the state. Whites opposed vouchers by 59 percent to 35 percent, while blacks were opposed by 63 percent to 33 percent.
Federal funds for young hurricane victims should go only to public schools that are open to all and without discrimination or indoctrination. The administration’s private school aid plan can only further complicate the already chaotic and inadequate responses to the terrible storms, create administrative confusion, and stir up political controversy at a time when the country needs to pull together.
The bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Michael B. Enzi and Edward M. Kennedy, though not nearly as bad as the Bush plan, should also be rejected for many of the same reasons.
Americans for Religious Liberty
Silver Spring, Md.
A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2005 edition of Education Week as Seeing a Cynical Use of Katrina Victims’ Plight