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Letter: Private School Tax Credits (New York Times)

To the Editor:

Re “Cuomo Promotes Tax Credits for Families of Students at Private Schools” (news article, May 18):

The right to a meaningful public education is at the core of our democracy, and educational opportunity must be available to all children on a fair and equitable basis, no matter how poor they are, no matter what their educational needs are, and no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, the proposal by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York to divert money from public schools to private and religious schools is not about improving public education for all children. It is not about choice.

It is about allowing hedge funds and millionaires to siphon money away from public schools to support their narrow idea of what education should look like.

This includes private schools for the 1 percent, religious schools that can throw children out and dismiss teachers for having the wrong faith — or no faith — and privately owned and operated charter schools that operate without accountability and would turn our underfunded public schools into a dumping ground for New York’s neediest and most challenging students.

Let there be no mistake: The New York Civil Liberties Union does not oppose private schools. We do not oppose charter schools. And we defend the right of religious groups to educate their children in accordance with their faith, instead of in the public schools.

But subsidizing private and parochial schools at the expense of public education is fundamentally at odds with our democratic values, and using public funds for religious education breaches the separation of church and state.

Donna Lieberman
Executive Director
New York Civil Liberties Union

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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