MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Rep. Johnnie Turner (D-Memphis) is speaking out against efforts to take money away from public schools to spend on private vouchers.
“I strongly believe that private school vouchers paid for by public school funding is wrong for students, wrong for our schools, and wrong for our community,” said Turner. “Vouchers have never been proven to work around the country wherever they have been tried. They do not improve student outcomes, and they clearly are meant to attack and weaken public schools.”
Turner, a lifelong educator with strong Civil Rights ties in Memphis, says that community-based public schools are the best way to educate the next generation.
“Our community faces many challenges that can and must be addressed with education. The idea that we should privatize education as the best way to meet those challenges is wrong on the facts, and a real threat to the future of our community,” said Turner. “The vast majority of our children go to public schools. Supporting those schools, not taking precious resources away, is the best thing for Memphis and the state of Tennessee.”
Rep. Turner has been a long time member and leader in the NAACP, the nation’s oldest Civil Rights organization. The NAACP is strongly opposed to vouchers, publishing the following statement:
The NAACP has consistently supported investments in our public schools that will benefit all students, not just potentially a few. School vouchers do not offer a collective benefit. Vouchers take critical resources away from our neighborhood public schools, the very schools that are attended by the vast majority of African American students. Furthermore, private and parochial schools are not required to observe federal nondiscrimination laws even if they receive funds through voucher programs. In fact, many voucher proposals often contain language specifically intended to circumvent civil rights laws, and many proponents insist voucher funding does not flow to the school but instead to the parent or student precisely to avoid any civil rights obligations. This specificity in language allows private institutions to discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, disability and language proficiency – and even merit, again, despite the fact that they are receiving taxpayer funds.