Day: <span>July 24, 2015</span>

Spreading vouchers to suburbia


Remember when all those voucher advocates used to shed crocodile tears over the plight of low-income children “trapped in (allegedly) failing schools”? Remember their claims that they were trying to help only inner-city kids with tax dollars for private school tuition? Well, at least one major voucher proponent on a national scale finally has dropped the pretense and admitted that it wants taxpayers to provide vouchers for well-heeled kids in suburbia as well.

This voucher promoter is the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC), which is behind dozens of pieces of anti-public education, anti-consumer, anti-middle class legislation considered by state legislators throughout the country.

As Jonas Persson, a writer at the Center for Media and Democracy, points out in the article linked below, “School vouchers were never about helping poor, at-risk or minority students.” But that was a “useful fiction” for voucher advocates for years. Now, they are beginning to be more open. Here in Texas, you may recall, state Sen. Donna Campbell had an open-ended voucher bill that died during last spring’s legislative session.

According to one estimate cited in this article, vouchers and voucher-like tax-credit schemes already steal $1.5 billion a year in tax money from public schools throughout the country. And, voucher advocates are hoping to increase that to $5 billion a year by 2020 – to benefit for-profit and religious schools at the expense of public, neighborhood schools were most children, especially kids from poor families, will continue to be educated.

Wisconsin, where anti-educator presidential candidate Scott Walker is governor, already is “well on its way towards limitless voucher schools,” the article notes.

“Problems in Suburbia: Why Middle-Class Students Need School Choice, Digital Learning and Better Options” was the title of a presentation during the ALEC meeting this week in San Diego. ALEC also has revised the talking points for its “model” voucher bills to claim, another other things, that “all children from low- and middle-income families should receive public support for their education regardless of whether they are attending a public or private school.”