It’s hard to believe that vouchers are being promoted across the country and are once again being considered in the State of Tennessee. Voters there have made it known time-and-again that they don’t like vouchers.
Here the Tennessee Momma Bears give information to speak out against vouchers. They tell us that $130 million will be taken from public schools if the voucher bill passes. They remind us that some public schools in this state are suing because they don’t have money for essentials like toilet paper!
If you are from Tennessee, please consider emailing or calling your Congressman to ask them not to vote for vouchers. Do it before Tuesday, January 26.
It is deceptive to promote vouchers—like in Tennessee where Governor Haslam has proclaimed January 24-30 as Tennessee School Choice Week—implying opportunity for parents.
Many of these same politicians put in place policies to under fund real public schools and foist draconian reforms onto the children in those schools. This drives parents to vouchers!
But voucher love by politicians isn’t just found in Tennessee. State leaders across the country are honoring school choice week.
Even Michigan’s Governor Snyder, with all Michigan’s problems like tainted water in Flint and crumbling school buildings in Detroit, is finding time to celebrate school choice week. You would think he had more important things to do.
But look who’s speaking out against vouchers!
Steve Nelson, who is a headmaster of a prestigious private school in Manhattan, wrote a strong letter in support of public schools. He researched who was behind school choice week and found the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch Brothers, Big Pharma, other corporations, the Gleason Family foundation, and Freedom Works—a Tea Party group.
Here is the link to Nelson’s letter. Here are my favorite points.
- We partner with public schools, argue for school funding and stand with many others who imbue a deep sense of social justice in our students. We know that public education is essential to the future of our country. Schools should be equitably funded, teachers should be cherished and unions should be appreciated for their historic role in resisting the drift toward plutocracy.
- By contrast, “school choice” means further segregating schools by race and class. “School choice” diverts critical resources from underfunded public schools to for-profit education management organizations.
- You demean the profession by claiming that any young college graduate with a few weeks training is a “teacher.”
Here is why the voucher bill in Tennessee should be defeated one last time.
You don’t have to look far online or in education research to find that vouchers don’t work. They have been tried in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio and Washington D.C. and results have not been positive. Here is a great description about the failure of vouchers and how they are meant to destroy public schools.
Private schools can reject students.
Most private, parochial, and charter schools are selective. They don’t have to accept every student, and they can remove students if they are not doing well in the school.
Vouchers often go to students with disabilities.
States might first give vouchers to parents with students who have disabilities. This is troubling because few private or parochial schools offer special education.
Or, if it is a special school, students are not in regular classes—no inclusion.
Parents could also lose the rights for their child under IDEA.
Later, these same states expand their vouchers to more students with the ultimate goal to defeat public schools.
Private schools are not held accountable like public schools.
Private schools do not always show progress on test scores.
While public schools are over-tested, private and parochial schools rarely compare scores. It is difficult to tell how well a private school is doing.
Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski have a book everyone interested in schools might want to read. It is titled The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools.
Some private schools worry that if they get vouchers they will have to start testing in order to prove they are accountable. This will change the nature of private schooling.
Religion and Separation of Church and State.
Taxpayers become uncomfortable knowing they are funding church schools that have religious doctrine with which they don’t agree.
Certainly there are good private and parochial schools in America. It is more difficult to find decent charter schools.
But America’s public schools are important to our democracy. Before signing on to vouchers, remember–we all own our public schools. They belong to everyone!
I hope the real choice will be to support local public schools. Vote NO on vouchers!