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Billions in US tax dollars go to private religious schools

On this edition of Your Call's Media Roundtable, we discuss a Washington Post investigation, which reveals how billions in US taxpayer dollars are paying for private-school tuition at conservative religious schools. Almost five million private school students are benefiting from vouchers.

The programs, popular with conservatives, are rapidly growing in GOP-run states, with a total of 29 states plus DC operating some sort of voucher system, according to the investigation. Eight states created or expanded voucher programs last year, and this year, Alabama, Georgia and Missouri have approved or expanded voucher-type programs. Some recently enacted plans are just starting to take effect or will be phased in over the next few years.

  • Ohio: This year, more than 150,000 Ohio students are using vouchers, with 91 percent attending religious schools.
  • Wisconsin: About 55,000 vouchers were given this school year with 96 percent attending religious schools.
  • Indiana: About 98 percent of vouchers go to religious schools. 
  • Florida: This year, 400,000 students participated, with at least 82 percent of them attending religious schools. Florida has the largest voucher program with a cost of $3 billion this year alone.
  • Arizona: More than 75,000 students are benefiting from the Empowerment Scholarship Program, which pays for any educational expense. 87 percent of $229 million that was spent for that program in 2022-2023 went to religious schools. 

Guest:

Laura Meckler, national education writer at the Washington Post

Resources:

The Washington Post: Billions in taxpayer dollars now go to religious schools via vouchers

The Arkansas Times: Washington Post highlights national trend of public funding for religious private schools

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Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.