Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten on GAO ‘School Choice’ Report and Trump’s Voucher Scheme

For Release: 

Monday, September 12, 2016


Evan Sutton
Cell: 206-851-0178

WASHINGTON—In response to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s release of “School Choice: Private School Choice Programs Are Growing and Can Complicate Providing Certain Federally Funded Services to Eligible Students,” AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:

"With this report, the GAO confirms basic facts we have long known: While public schools have the responsibility for educating all students, many voucher schools take public funding while picking and choosing students based on their academic and behavioral characteristics. Voucher schools don’t abide by the same academic quality standards as public schools. They blur the lines separating church and state. Finally, vouchers exacerbate inequity by directly draining critical funding away from public schools—often the schools that need that funding most.

“This report was in the making long before Donald Trump announced his half-baked, ideology-driven plan to redirect $20 billion in federal education funding to a voucher scheme. But the GAO’s findings cast a harsh light on that plan and show why Trump’s education plan should terrify anyone who cares about leveling the playing field for all students.

“Analysis of Trump’s plan shows it could devastate up to 56,000 schools and leave as many as 21 million children worse off, while only providing vouchers to a tiny fraction of the students he claims he’ll help.

“Trump’s reckless voucher scheme could wreak real-world havoc. For schools with the highest concentration of high-needs students, Trump’s plan would likely mean:

  • Losing tens of thousands of highly qualified teachers and classroom aides, increasing class sizes and decreasing access to one-on-one attention for students.
  • Cutting curriculum improvement programs and professional development for educators.
  • Slashing resources for extended learning time and tutoring for kids who need extra help.
  • Firing counselors and ending counseling programs that help at-risk kids stay in school.
  • Cutting programs that increase parent participation and involvement.
  • Firing school nurses and ending in-school medical and dental care for students.
  • Cutting funding for classroom technology, school supplies and other critical materials for high-needs students.

“Trump’s proposal dwarfs any voucher scheme reviewed by the GAO and would cause tremendous damage. Let’s end the drive to privatize education and, instead, invest resources in public schools so that every student has access to a high-quality neighborhood school.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.