Betsy DeVos Promotes Public Funding For Religious Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (Image from March 2018 appearance on CBS News' 60 Minutes)

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a longtime advocate for privatization of education, spent time this week in New York City, where she toured religious schools and slammed states with constitutional restrictions on spending tax dollars for religious schools. DeVos did not visit any public schools on the trip.

According to Education Week, DeVos also praised state “tax credit scholarship programs” that are a legislative sleight-of-hand to divert tax dollars to religious schools without the use of unpopular and ineffective vouchers. In her years as a champion for “school choice,” DeVos poured money into state legislative campaigns and lobbying efforts to pass such legislation.

Maggie Garrett, legislative director at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, reminded Education Week readers that Oklahoma voters in 2016 were the latest to vote down an effort to do away with the state’s constitutional restriction on using public money for religious purposes.

Religious Right groups are hoping to use the Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer to further dismantle the separation of church and state. In that case, the Court said a church preschool could not be prohibited from participating in a public program to refurbish playgrounds on religious grounds.