Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Voucher Schools In Sweden Not What Republicans Want in U.S.

What we are hearing from the Republican Party regarding the push for vouchers is how successful Sweden is in having a nationwide plan. Under their definition of communism, the Swedish plan would be a socialist threat to every tenther and health care protester in the country, because it calls for big government oversight and a standardized curriculum. The Washington Times has these details:

In the capital city of socialist Sweden, as in the rest of the country, schoolchildren and their parents were finalizing their choice of public or private school - using the school-voucher program available to all Swedish children ... It seems that the citadel of socialism can teach our Congress and teachers unions quite a bit about education choice ... Sweden introduced school vouchers throughout the country in 1992 ... These independent schools, like the public schools, get a voucher payment for each child. They compete vigorously with one other because the money follows the child to the school of his or her choice ... the private schools cannot select the students they want ... they cannot charge additional fees ... Children with special needs get a larger voucher to cover the additional costs of accommodating them ... Every private school is free to design its own programs and teaching methods.

But here's the difference between Sweden and the U.S. proposal for vouchers:

Each school must cover the content of Sweden's national curriculum. Each school also must participate in national testing and be open to government inspection.

It's funny, that one line is never addressed again in the article. That one line would destroy the plan that voucher advocates have in place that would take down the nations public school system. No testing, no accountability. But before you think Swedes are flocking to the private school systems:

The growth of the competing private sector has been dramatic. Before the voucher program, less than 1 percent of Swedish children attended private schools. Now it is 10 percent. At the senior high school level, it is 20 percent. Roughly 10 percent of the private schools are church-based. 60 percent of its private schools actually operate as for-profit companies. Some are chains.
According to Timbro, the average profit margin of these schools is about 4 percent, and nearly 80 percent of the profits are reinvested in the schools.

What we're seeing right now from the private U.S. school chains are attempts to game the system, funneling money and profits into the pockets of school owners and subsidiaries and not reinvesting it into their "product."

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