President Trump and his utterly unqualified Secretary of Education are both huge supporters of school vouchers. Like other voucher fans, Betsy DeVos believes that by providing financial support to families, the government is giving them more choice about their children’s educations.
But a new report in USNews shows that it’s actually those who oppose school vouchers, like the teachers unions, who are correct about their impact.
The article points out the philosophical problem with school vouchers. Obviously, parents have a right to choose a private school for their children. They can choose a school for its political, social or religious beliefs, if those beliefs match their own.
At the same time, however, it is the purpose of education to insure that all citizens in a democracy share the same values and the same knowledge base. We need all of our students to understand how the economy works, how the government works, and how to engage in the life of the country. Only public schools, with their shared government guidelines, can guarantee that.
The bigger problem with vouchers, however, is that they simply do not deliver on the promises that their supporters offer. And there is a lot of data to prove that.
For example, Sweden has been using school vouchers since 1992, and its international achievement test scores have been dropping ever since. Likewise, Chile’s voucher program, in place since 1980, has showed no improvement in achievement scores to date. The same stagnation has existed in England’s scores, in spite of their voucher system.
Research shows that the only thing that increases under vouchers is school segregation. Students are segregated by economic status, by religious, by ethnicity and by race when vouchers are used to increase private school enrollment. These findings have been consistent around the world.
The Brookings Institution has released data showing that even Charter schools in the U.S. are more segregated than public schools in the same areas.
This information is incredibly important right now, because the House of Representatives has introduced a bill, HR 610, and it’s a doozy.
This outrageous piece of attempted legislation actually take away all federal involvement in k-12 education, and would replace the funding with “block grants” to states. The states would then distribute that money equally to parents of every kid. They’d all get the same amount of money. Rich kid, poor kid, disabled kid, gifted kid, whatever. Everyone gets the same, which obviously means that the rich make out best.
Parents then decide where to send that money to educate their kids. They can use their local school, another public school, a private or charter school.
And get this, if parents decide to just home school their children, they can simply keep the money. Can you even imagine? The bill sets up no criteria for homeschooling. It doesn’t talk at all about monitoring kids’ progress in any way.
So, theoretically, one could decide to open the “School of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” and then take in ten kids to teach. What a way to make a buck.
What a way to completely undo decades of improvement in public education. What a way to make sure that the rich can stay that way while the poor get stuck in underfunded local schools.
If you’re as horrified as we are by this awful attack on public education, please go to this site, Stop HR 610, and sign the petition. Few issues are as important as the education of our children and grandchildren.