Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Voucher proponents pushing for bill passage
There was a big battle over vouchers this past spring, which may be coming to an end as a Bill sits on the governor’s desk waiting for his signature. At the beginning of the legislative session voucher proponents were offered the keys to the treasury and all they had to give up in return was take some legitimate accountability measures, instead of doing so, they fought tooth and nail against them. That should have been the end of the story right there but sadly it is not.
The bill which had more lives than a cat seemingly died several times until an unprecedented last day move tacked an amendment consisting of some modest voucher expansions to a very popular bill that had already passed.
Now the Heartland Institute is weighing in in the Orlando Sentinel, pushing for vouchers and using some dubious information to sell their side. Lets forget for a second vouchers obliterate the second amendment as 90 percent of them are allocated to religious schools, their teachers are not required to have degrees or any type of certification, and that over 150 teach creationism as science and tackle the claim that they are saving the state money.
The program is funded through corporate tax-deductible donations. Well friends that is money that is not going into the state coffers which pay for many services besides education. The truth is the state treasury is losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars. Now yes vouchers are worth less than what we pay per pupil but just because districts have fewer pupils that does not mean they have smaller overheads. Superintendents all throughout the state are bemoaning the loss of resources to charter and voucher schools.
Then there is the notion that a hundred thousand students have applied for vouchers. How do we know that number is accurate? John East the president of Step up for Students said he kept the numbers on the back of an envelop and second the right should not be able to create a crisis and then benefit off of it. For years now they have been demonizing teachers and deriding public schools and now they have introduced a set of standards Common Core that has many parents who would never think of vouchers concerned. Common core is being sold as making Florida’s students more competitive worldwide but strangely enough private schools that take vouchers are exempt. I guess the state doesn’t really care about those kids.
Joy Pullman then finally says let’s listen to the parents. Well friends why are we supposed to listen only to the parents who want vouchers. Why does the state feel it can ignore all the parents who have come out against common core, the states grading system, it’s reliance on high stakes testing and inconsistent and inadequate funding? Parents that number in the millions. Why and how can they be ignored? I submit if they weren’t ignored the Florida voucher program would go away and the state of education would be greatly improved.
Vouchers without strict accountability are a bad deal even if a few parents have been persuaded to take them. The answer is to fix the ills in our public school system, many of which were created by the proponents of vouchers who now seek to profit off the crisis they created.