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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Comparing the opponets of school choice to murderers and racisists never works.

People can passionately disagree about things but one thing I have learned is you should never compare your opponent, the person with the opposing view to Hitler. A close second would be to compare them to the racist power structure that beat, oppressed and murdered people of color during the civil rights movement, unfortunately that is what the reverend H.K. Mathews does in the as he compares people who don't support school vouchers to them.

Mathews is for school choice, though I think that is just a code word for privatization. On the other side, or the ones that he is comparing to Sherriff Jim Clark, Governor George Wallace and the Klu Klux Klan, are the league of Women Voters, the Parent Teachers Association, The Teacher’s Union, the School Board association, various other parent groups and ironically the NAACP.    

Isn’t it possible that this debate as important as it is, is little more than an earnest disagreement between people that both care about the future of children? People that think vouchers should have minimum qualification and accountability, people that lament the loss of resources to public schools and people that want facts and evidence be the barometer we use when making education policy are not seeking to disenfranchise the poor and downtrodden, they are not seeking to limit empowerment. This may be a shocker but they passionately care about the welfare and education of the state’s children too.

As the various pro-school choice groups ratchet up the inflammatory rhetoric they distract people from legitimate concerns and questions.   

They say they are for the poor and mostly minority students who have the least but then shrug their shoulders at the massive cuts to Bright Futures which disproportionately effects poor and mostly minority students the most. They say they are for accountability and voucher students have to take a norm referenced tests, well if they are so great why don’t we dump the high stakes testing agenda for public schools and say they can take the same types of tests too? They say they save money while at the same time districts lament the millions and millions of dollars.

They say they are just for poor families but then ask you not to remember that the legislature just expanded the eligibility for a family of four from making just over 20 thousand to making just over sixty. Furthermore the supporters of vouchers usually are also for S.T.E.M, Common Core and teacher accountability but shrug their shoulders at those things for private schools that take vouchers where teachers do not have to be certified nor curriculums recognized. Also private schools that take less than a quarter of million dollars, the vast majority of them, don’t even have to report how they spend the money and since over seventy percent of the money goes to religious institutions we have effectively dismantled the first amendment as well. Finally this program with the barest of oversight is allowed to expand 25 percent a year, in less than five years it will take a billion dollars annually out of the state coffers and our education system. Shouldn’t above be enough to give us pause?

None of it though gets addressed by voucher supporters. They are too busy calling their opponents heartless and making unfair and ridiculous comparisons. We need to have an honest debate but in my opinion one side isn’t interested and since that is the case it should tell us all we really need to know.

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