Deceiving and Destroying: Vouchers Versus Public Schools

I wonder how many of us realize that a handful of very wealthy families actively spend time and money toward destroying public education? Dick DeVos, husband of Betsy DeVos, once said, “When given a clear choice, voters across the U.S. have consistently opposed school vouchers.” DeVos continued by asserting that the grassroots movement must be kept quiet. He suggested using the term “school choice” and spreading the idea one person at a time. Think tanks funded by Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other mega-donors claimed, “Because we know how the government schools perpetuate themselves, we can design a plan to dismantle them.” Dick and Betsy DeVos plan to execute this plan. Please understand this effort for what it is: a movement focused on total destruction of public education.

Representative Huberty’s Courageous Stand

During an interview with Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith, Representative Dan Huberty, the new chair of the Texas Public Education Committee, asserted his refusal to allow his committee to promote a voucher bill. Possibly, bills in favor of vouchers will now be considered dead in Texas. However, because many citizens will continue to chew on this issue, I share the following claims and rebuttals.

First Claim

Competition will benefit all schools, since all will compete for students.

Response

My involvement with education covers more than forty years. Every time we attempt to set up competition among schools and teachers, we develop self-serving, survivalist climates. It amazes me that those who recognize education as an entitlement do not hesitate to suggest competition. Experience informs me that teaching demands that we pull together, share what works, and labor toward a larger cause than personal or school interests.

Second Claim

Schools operating in the private sector will be less expensive to run.

Response

My recollection of history suggests that private markets always seek profits. Financial practices that serve business will not serve children. For example, if private schools do not have to purchase expensive test-prep materials and exams, they can definitely save money. Without accountability requirements, private owners will be tempted to cut corners to increase assets.

Representative Donna Howard tells us that according to the state budget, vouchers currently serve five percent of Texas children. However, 11.5% of the funding allotted to public schools for operational costs goes to vouchers.

Third Claim

Vouchers, tax credits, and scholarships can be used for parochial schools. Curriculum can include religious material.

Response

I recognize the importance of religion in our society. However, our founding fathers established separation of church and state. Based on our nation’s constitution, public school finances should not be used for religious biases.

Fourth Claim

Advocates for private schools claim better results.

Response

My own research informs me that assessments have not clarified better or worse results. I can only imagine how great public schools would look if they did not include English as a Second Language (ESL) students, those with disabilities, students with challenging behaviors or those with weak academic performance.

Fifth Claim

Schools receiving vouchers do not have to struggle with testing or accountability. This frees money for innovative instruction.

Response

Rep. Dan Huberty, Houston Republican claims that proponents of vouchers want to eliminate testing for private schools while maintaining assessment requirements for the public domain. Kent Grusendorf, former House Public Education Committee chairman believes imposing state accountability on private schools would guarantee failure of the private programs. I am convinced that this kind of discrepancy stacks the deck against the public sector.

10284883 – school bus against the dark blue sky

Closing

Although public schools in Texas serve all children, the Texas education system claims five of the top twenty-five schools in the nation. Education Commissioner Mike Morath adds that even though Texas has more students living in poverty than any other state, Texas ranks third among states nationally. Not too shabby.

I believe we face two questions concerning vouchers and public education. “Do we rid ourselves once and for all of public education, or do we put all we can into fixing the broken fragments? Whether called vouchers, tax credits, or education savings accounts, all money designated for private schools robs public education of needed funds. Make no mistake. The powers that push for vouchers intend to ultimately destroy public education. Vouchers provide the means to transition from government run schools to private ones.

Work Cited:

Collier, Kiah. “Texas House Committee Digging in Heels for School Voucher Fight.” Texas Tribune. Oct. 17, 2016. https://www.texastribune.org/2016/10/17/texas-reps-tear-voucher-proponents/

Swaby, Aliyya. “School Choice Bill Pitches Savings Account, Tax Credit Scholarships.” Texas Tribune: Public Education. Jan. 30,2017. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/30/private-school-choice-bill/

——— “School Choice Bill Pitches Savings Account, Tax Credit Scholarships.” Texas Tribune: Public Education. Jan. 30,2017. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/30/private-school-choice-bill/

Tabachnick, Rachel. “The Right’s “School Choice” Scheme” Political Research Associates. August 1, 2012. http://www.politicalresearch.org/2012/08/01/the-rights-school-choice-scheme/ – sthash.gFoALqyx.iAOK17Ca.dpbs.

“Texas AFT Legislative Hotline.” Texas Legislative Hotline. February 24, 2017. nfo@texasaft.org.

Truesdell, Nicki. “Exposing School Choice.” Anyone Can Homeschool. February 7, 2017. http://nickitruesdell.com/2017/02/exposing-school-choice/

Weaver, Heather. “A School Voucher by Any Other Name.” ACLU. January 9, 2013. https://www.aclu.org/blog/school-voucher-any-other-name

2 thoughts on “Deceiving and Destroying: Vouchers Versus Public Schools

  1. sharon stidham smith

    Well said Barbara. For democracy to succeed, we must have an educated population.

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