Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11) grilled Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during a recent hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee over her new “Education Freedom Scholarships” incentive.
The scholarship program was included in the Trump administration’s federal education budget, but there has been much debate about how exactly the program will work. The Department of Education describes the program as a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for individuals and businesses that donate to state-identified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs).
“A private donation isn’t a public resource. Is a donation to a non-profit that you claim on your taxes a public resource?” the Department of Education said on Twitter in response to claims that the new program will use public resources to expand school choice.
A private donation isn’t a public resource. Is a donation to a non-profit that you claim on your taxes a public resource?
— ED Press Secretary (@EDPressSec) April 4, 2019
“Despite what some may try to tell you, Education Freedom Scholarships are privately funded and do not take any money from public schools,” DeVos herself wrote on Twitter along with a graphic explaining how the scholarships are funded.
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) April 2, 2019
DeVos was recently called before the House Education and Labor Committee to testify on the scholarship program and other elements of the Trump administration’s education budget.
Fudge began her questioning of DeVos by asking her if she realizes “it is her responsibility to educate every child in the United States.”
“My concern is that you spend so much of your time focused on vouchers, how do we fund religious and private schools, and then you come up with something called the Education Freedom Scholarship, which by any other name is a voucher,” Fudge said. “We are once again picking winners and losers, which is something that my colleagues complained for years and years about Democrats. You, in fact, are trying to pick winners and losers.”
The Department of Education has the responsibility to educate all children in the United States. Sec. DeVos’ Education Freedom Scholarships are nothing more than vouchers that disinvest in public schools, and funds private and religious schools with taxpayer dollars. pic.twitter.com/jyLr1JVg4z
— Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (@RepMarciaFudge) April 10, 2019
Fudge went on to attack the program for its dollar-for-dollar tax credit, saying she’s “never been aware” of such a credit.
“A 100 percent credit. So now we have already decided that we’re going to make rich people richer with the tax cuts, we’re going to make poor people about the same, and the middle class we’re going to hurt with more taxes,” she continued, calling the tax credit the “most ridiculous thing” she’s ever heard of.
“Once again, by any other name, it is a voucher and it is something to benefit the rich,” Fudge said. “It is hurting taxpayers. If you give a one-to-one tax credit, it’s going to create a $5 billion a year hole in the federal treasury, so that’s $5 billion that could be spent on education and other things.”
When DeVos attempted to explain that “these are voluntary contributions,” Fudge interrupted and reclaimed her time.
“I just wish that at some point we would just be honest with what we are doing and we would just tell the American people that what we are doing with this is creating a shell game to fund private and religious schools, and their providers, using the taxpayers as the middle man,” Fudge concluded her remarks. “It is nothing more than another attempt to disinvest in public education.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Marcia Fudge” by Marcia Fudge.