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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gary Chartrand couldn't be more wrong about vouchers

Gary Chartrand is a fan of private schools, he sent his children to them. Though the tuition at the schools they went to is exponentially more than the private schools that the vouchers he advocates 
for, pay for.

In his letter to the Times Union (here) he blames the teacher unions for bringing a lawsuit against vouchers. Let’s face it teachers unions have become an easy target, that’s probably why he doesn’t mention that the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and many other organizations are against vouchers as well.  

Gary Chartrand talks a lot about the money that it will cost if the students were returned to local schools systems. I think he really oversells it and he doesn’t factor in all the money that vouchers actually take out of the school system. Last year it was nearly four hundred and fifty million dollars and the amount is allowed to grow twenty-five percent per year. It won’t be long before vouchers take a billion dollars annually out of public education.

As for academic success that the students in the voucher program see, there are undoubtedly great schools doing a good job but there are also undoubtedly terrible schools doing a terrible job or that’s what Northwestern University Professor David Figlio, who was hired by the state to study our voucher system told me. Why is accountability paramount for public schools but all but ignored when it comes to private schools that accept vouchers, which don’t have to have certified teachers, a recognized curriculum and overwhelmingly are religious in nature?

The truth is, and this is something even Gary Chartrand’s local think tank the Jacksonville Public Education Fund admitted last fall, is that we have no idea how voucher schools are doing because they have practically zero academic accountability. Most don’t have any fiscal accountability either as only schools that get more than a quarter of a million dollars have to report how the money is spent.  

Gary Chartrand who is a grocer by trade and who was never an educator used his relationship with Rick Scott to land a spot on the state board of Education and he has been there for going on five years. Do you think with all the problems with accountability, common core, race based goals, teacher morale and turnover that things have gotten better or worse under his tenure? I ask because since this man has been on the wrong side of so many education issues why should we listen to what he has to say about vouchers?

Finally the state constitution calls for a high quality uniformed education system, not a public one that has accountability measures in place and a second one paid for with money diverted from the state treasury through tax credits that resists accountability.

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