Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Thursday morning visited a Pennsylvania school whose policies ban both transgender students and teachers in her annual “back to school” tour promoting taxpayer-funded private education, which she calls “education freedom.”
DeVos once again chose to visit a religious school, the Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School, after which she held a roundtable (video below). For decades DeVos has devoted her professional life to finding ways to make taxpayers pay for private education. Since becoming Education Secretary DeVos has heightened her focus, politicizing her agency to promote private and charter schools over public schools, and working to further marginalize minority students, especially LGBTQ, Black, and disabled children.
As The Huffington Post and CNN report, Harrisburg Elementary School bans transgender students and teachers who have or have begun transitioning. The diocese which oversees the school has a school policy that says to “attempt to make accommodations for such persons would be to cooperate in the immoral action and impose an unacceptable burden on others in the school community.”
That same policy warns parents that by enrolling their children in the school “they agree that they will not publically [sic] act in opposition to Catholic teaching.”
DeVos politicized her visit in a press release, attacking Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf for vetoing a bill that would have doubled the $210 million in taxpayer funds used to subsidize a program granting tax credits to help funnel money into private and charter schools, and effectively out of the public schools system statewide.
Here’s DeVos today at her roundtable pushing her program to increase taxpayer-funded private, religious, and charter schools, while blasting Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor:
U.S. Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos talks about the value of the Educational Improvement Tac Credit. She came to Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School this morning. @BetsyDeVosED @HBGDiocese pic.twitter.com/wvr8Vse1h2
— PAcatholic (@PAcatholic) September 19, 2019
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DeVos Promotes Plan to Hand Over Billions in Federal Tax Credits for Private, Religious, and Home Schooling
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been touring the country to promote her plan to hand over billion of dollars in federal tax credits to dramatically expand the number of students attending private schools, religious schools, or even being homeschool. The program, part of a bill in Congress, would be funded through private donations in exchange for tax credits. In other words, tax dollars would effectively be paying for the program, as those dollars will have to be made up by taxpayers.
Secretary DeVos’ “Education Freedom Scholarships” program would continue the Trump administration’s blurring of the lines between church and state. Just last week Sec. DeVos announced the Dept. of Education will no longer ban religious organizations from being funded with taxpayer dollars for secular projects.
The Dept. of Education claims up to $5 billion annually could be allocated, but Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who spoke at an event with DeVos to roll out his bill to support the program (video below), said it would be $10 billion.
The reception in Sec. DeVos’ stop in Iowa appeared less than enthusiastic.
“Pitching her proposal to fund scholarships for private school and home-schooled students, federal education secretary Betsy DeVos met behind closed doors Friday with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state leaders and lobbyists,” Iowa’s Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.
The paper notes that Waterloo Community Schools’ Superintendent Jane Lindaman was “the lone public education representative invited to participate,” and described her as being “concerned.”
“I was surprised by the imbalance of people at this meeting today,” Lindaman told The Courier. “Out of 14 people, I was the only public school advocate. I quickly realized the responsibility and, quite honestly, the burden of speaking for the hundreds of thousands of kids who are in public education in Iowa.”
Here’s a local news report from Alabama last month that features Sec. DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz, a big home schooling advocate, promoting his bill and the Secretary’s program. Cruz endorses the federal government effectively paying for private and religious education, calling it a “civil rights issue.”
In 2015 Sen. Cruz spoke with homeschooling parents, telling them LGBT people are waging “jihad” on Christianity.
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