Monday, May 30, 2011

The Push For School Voucher Programs

Wealthy Families, Corporate-Backed Foundations Behind Push for School Vouchers
The sudden, rapid push for school voucher programs nationwide is not due to any public outcry or grassroots uprising for these programs. For decades these programs have been a hard-sell with the American public. Instead, a small group of wealthy individuals and corporate-backed, private foundations have been behind these efforts to divert public taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools. Among them is the son of the billionaire co-founder of Amway, Richard "Dick" DeVos, Sr., who advocates dropping the term "public schools" in favor of the term "government schools" and who has poured millions of dollars into groups that advocate "school choice," the term often used to refer to voucher programs. Dick DeVos's wife, Betsy DeVos, who is also the sister of Erik Prince of Xe, the private mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater, has been even more aggressive than her husband at promoting voucher programs. She launched the pro-voucher group "All Children Matter" in 2003, which spent $7.6 million in its first year alone to promote the adoption of state voucher programs. Betsy DeVos also founded The American Federation for Children in 2010. A PAC of the same name spent $820,000 on Wisconsin state legislative races to elect pro-voucher candidates. The Alliance for School Choice is another DeVos-funded group that promotes vouchers. The Walton Family Foundation (of Wal-Mart fame) has also given millions to push school voucher programs. These are just a small sample of the private, corporate-backed forces working to undermine public schools.
The following chart is from

Should Government Vouchers Be Given to Pay for Private Schools, Even if They're Religious Schools?

In a Nutshell
  1. Rich parents have a choice of schools for their kids; poor parents should have the same choice.
  2. Competition between schools is increased, leading to greater efficiency and results in all schools.
  3. Private schools have a better history of getting results in teaching information and values than public schools.
  4. Those parents who send their kids to private schools must in effect pay twice; i.e. their taxes pay for public schools that their children don't even attend.
  5. More private schools would provide opportunities for specialization; for example, schools could provide extra expertise in math, science, sports training, liberal arts, college preparation, and so on.
  6. Providing private school access to everyone will increase diversity.
  7. More money is put back into the private sector rather than squandered at the Department of Education and other wasteful government bureaucracies.
  8. The parent makes the choice between religious or non-religious schooling; thus, the government isn't imposing religion.
  1. Since most of the schools in the program are religious, government funding violates the 1st Amendment separation of church and state.  (Note from Norm: I disagree with this argument wholeheartedly! )
  2. Vouchers take funds away from already under-funded public schools. (Note from Norm: Public schools are not under funded…just mismanaged.)
  3. Private schools aren't subject to as rigorous of oversight; thus, they may not act responsibly. (Note from Norm: This is a poor argument. You get what you pay for and if you’re not satisfied you stop paying…just how long do you think a private school would last if they did not produce results.)
  4. Public schools must accept everyone regardless of disabilities, test scores, religion, or other characteristics; private schools can show favoritism or discrimination in selecting students.
  5. The quality of education at the private schools may be brought down by new students that aren't as gifted. (Note from Norm: Another poor argument!  All I can say is, "You gotta be kidding me! Who thinks these things up?")

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