Greens Dismiss Bush Voucher Plan

News Release - January 27, 2001

Connecticut Green Party
P.O. Box 231214, Hartford, CT 06123 (860) 822-1270
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CONTACT:
Glenn Cheney (860) 822-1270
Tom Ethier (860) 243-1000 x-124 (days) or (860) 496-8947 (evenings)

Plan called "unfair and un-American"

Hartford (January 25) - The steering committee of the Connecticut Green Party has dismissed President Bush's plan to withdraw federalfunds from "failing" schools and pass the funds directly to parents for educational purposes at other schools. the CGP leaders calledthe plan unfair, unproductive, and constitutionally questionable. "The Republican plan takes money from the schools that need it most and benefits the students who need it least," said Tom Ethier, CGP spokesperson on educational matters. "The plan doesn't solve any problems with American public education, and it only aggravates problems in poor school districts. It also puts too much reliance on standardized tests." The Connecticut Green Party suggests that identifying and correcting the cause of a school's problems is the only moral and productive solution to the problem. "Inadequate schools need ideas, programs and, in most cases, better funding," Ethier said. "Until the Bush administration can provide that, it shouldn't be meddling with public education." Ethier pointed out that the $1,500 in voucher funds offered by the Bush plan would not be enough for poor families to pay tuition at private secular schools. Bush's voucher plan is aimed at religious schools and here it is on shaky constitutional ground.

"Statistics clearly indicate that student performance correlates closely to family income," Ethier said. "The irony - and the cruelty - of the Republican plan is that generally it will be the poorest schools that lose financial support, and these are the schools that need the most help. In effect, the Republican plan widens the gap between rich and poor by instituting it at the earliest possible stage in people's lives - childhood." The Connecticut Green Party would like to see additional funding for poorer schools and expanded programs for schools that are not performing well.

"Childhood education is the place where all Americans should be on a level playing field." Ethier said. "Public education is where we are created equal, or at least brought closer to equal. It's where we give everyone a chance to move up the socio-economic ladder. The Republicans want to raise the first rung of that ladder beyond the reach of those who need it most. That plan is unfair , unAmerican, and all too Republican." Ethier also questioned the constitutionality of the plan in that most of the funds handed over to parents would end up going to religious schools because secular private schools are usually far more expensive. The de facto funneling of government funds to religious schools, Ethier said, raises the issue of separation of church and state. If the issue were ever challenged in court, it could worsen the opinions that many Americans have after the dubious decision on the Florida elections.

"The current Supreme Court has already demonstrated that it is willing to disregard the law of the land and rule in a partisan fashion, so maybe Bush's plan will pass constitutional muster," Ethier said. "the Connecticut Green Party hopes we can avoid forcing the Supreme Court to weaken the constitution any further."

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