Thursday, December 18, 2008

Florida Voucher Money Scam is Another Republican Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

What looks, sounds and feels good to the public now about vouchers savings, is really a taxpayer scam, and nothing more. Why people don’t see the obvious manipulation of public opinion regarding voucher funding is still a mystery to me. It doesn’t take a genius to dissect the Republican scheme: Shift education to the private sector; advance a less educated and more easily manipulated electorate; all the while fulfilling their quest to cut taxes. Power, not public good, is the driving force in Florida. Sarasota’s Harold Tribune featured this simple explanation of the flawed thinking of voucher advocates.

A report … says a recently created school voucher program is saving the state millions. Logically, that means it could save more if the program is expanded.

I long ago called the corporate tax-credit voucher program a money-laundering scheme. Since it would be illegal to use tax money to fund private schools that don't have to meet anything even close to the state standards imposed on public school systems, this program dodges the law by using money that, technically, isn't tax money … The corporations get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in their state tax bill. That's the scammy part.

But those doing the study for the Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability understand all that. Their report concludes that the voucher program still saved the state almost $40 million last year. Private schools got $3,750 per student as tuition and agree not to charge the students more. The public school's annual cost per student is about $7,000.

The state could save more if it told public schools they could act like private schools and not be required to hire teachers the state considers qualified, or hit any marks whatsoever in standardized test scores for reading, writing, math and science. Their students don't even take the FCATs, the tests that we are told are the measure of a school's success. The state's obsession with measuring performance disappears entirely for private schools, even when they take voucher money. Meanwhile, the public schools have to provide bus service to make sure all kids have a way to get to school. Private schools don't.

With the voucher foot now well in the door, supporters will no doubt try to increase them, year by year.

Yes, that would wipe out the savings, but those who love vouchers were never in it to save us money. They are in it to make taxpayers pay for private and church schools.
It’s the redistribution of education upward, with no questions asked by the gullible public. But this isn’t the only area of attack. Feel good results often obscure actual academic performance while demonstrating the real reasons students don’t perform well. According to the University of Arkansas:
Researchers with the School Choice Demonstration Project based at the University of Arkansas report that having a choice of where to send their children to school boosts their satisfaction with and involvement in schools in Washington, D.C..
That’s right, parents are more satisfied. Are kids more educated? Three quarters of the voucher parents don’t care. Is it a double standard for public schools over private? You bet.
“The greatest source of satisfaction reported by parents was simply in being able to choose their child’s school,” added Patrick Wolf, director of the School Choice Demonstration Project and holder of the Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice in the department of education reform at the University of Arkansas. “Even D.C. parents whose children ended up returning to public schools tended to say that they were happy that they at least had a choice.” Some of the other findings: The factors these parents considered most important in making a choice included smaller class sizes, school safety, religious or values-based environment and rigorous academic curriculum; By the third year of focus groups, class size remained a crucial characteristic while school safety was less of an issue; Many parents placed greater emphasis on attitudes and behavior of their children, rather than test scores, as a basis for evaluating their progress. None of the parents polled considered standardized test scores to be the predominant measure when
assessing their children’s progress
I wonder where voucher parents got the idea that public schools were more unresponsive then their favored private couterparts?

No comments:

Post a Comment