Monday, April 25, 2011

Voucher schools now want more money, way more. But I thought we could get the same education for half the price?

The Journal Sentinel article below, by columnist Patrick McIlheran who describes himself as “generally a right-wing guy,” tries make the case for dramatically increasing voucher amounts, as a way of making the idea more palatable in the future. It's a set up, basically, planting the seed of thought early and often.
Part of making that case includes praising their worst enemy of all, European countries! Their national voucher plans. What is often missing from these pro-voucher arguments is the one element that makes the European plans work; their plans include a NATIONAL curriculum and a NATIONAL standardized test.

Funny how that never comes up? The point is, private schools are now pushing for much higher amounts of taxpayer subsidies. Some would call that profit taking, and some would call that an open admission that education really does cost that much. It would also contradict the idea that teachers are paid too much.
In Sunday's Journal Sentinel, I write about the fantastic bargain Wisconsin taxpayers are getting -- and may be at risk of losing. 
The bargain is what we spend when a family takes its school aid in the form of a voucher to a private school in Milwaukee's choice program. Taxpayers shell out $6,442 per child, about 45% as much as the $14,183 per-child cost in the Milwaukee Public Schools … The question is how much longer that can go on. Choice schools cannot charge poor families any more than the voucher, but researchers with the five-year study of school choice report that 82% of such schools have higher per-pupil costs. 
The voucher just isn't enough to run a school, said the University of Arkansas' Brian Kisida, one of the researchers: "How can you hire the best people on half the money?" He said that if he had Gov. Scott Walker's ear, he'd tell him to keep the rule requiring state tests, flawed as they are, and to raise the grant.
A few readers comments indicate they're starting to catch on to the scam:
"So, the lower cost of choice schools, the thing you have been trumpeting as the raison d'être for expanding the program away from public schools, is according to your own writing an artificially low number? Not enough to run a school on, and a number so low that teachers cannot be paid a reasonable wage. It is not hard to see the writing on the wall. If Wisconsin transitions to choice schools per the conservative/Walker plan, it would not take long for choice school costs to come up to par with public school costs. 'How can you hire the best people on half the money?"
"Wow. I hadn't thought of that."-Governor Scott Walker.
Or this interesting frame:
"School Choice via Vouchers is another one of those unfunded NEW Republican entitlement program similar to GWB Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Now the advocates of Vouchers want to expand this unfunded entitlement program. Eliminate the caps, make it statewide, and raise the income limits so the middle class can jump in to. Not for the poor anymore but really for the churches. Once you break down the barrier of church and state both the church and the state will suffer." 

No comments:

Post a Comment