Democrats have long professed to be staunch supporters of public education and against school choice, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., struck an 11th-hour deal to fund almost $3 billion for private schools, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The $2.75 billion for private schools came together from Schumer after aggressive Orthodox Jewish lobbying and rare support from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, according to the Times.
Notably, though, Democrats excoriated Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for fitting in funding for private schools in past stimulus bills last year, only to turn around and do the same thing with Biden’s $1.9 trillion spending package signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday.
“We never anticipated Senate Democrats would proactively choose to push us down the slippery slope of funding private schools directly,” lamented School Superintendents Association Advocacy Director Sasha Pudelski, in a letter to Congress. “The floodgates are open and now with bipartisan support, why would private schools not ask for more federal money?”
The machinations began behind a push from Orthodox Jewish lobbying in New York, and Catholic schools, according to Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Director for Public Policy’s Nathan J. Diament.
“It’s still the case that 10% of America’s students are in nonpublic schools, and they are just as impacted by the crisis as the other 90%, but we’re getting a much lower percentage overall,” Diament told the Times.
“We’re very appreciative of what Sen. Schumer did.”