The White House is requesting that a portion of the next stimulus bill be used for private school scholarships, including religious schools. They argue this must happen because of racial inequity in the public school system.
The Trump Administration is taking advantage of the nation’s present sensitivities to racial injustice and usurping it to benefit their voucher schemes.
Proponents of school choice vouchers routinely co-opt social justice language in the service of their anti-public ideas. In doing so, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The sheep says, “We’ve got to give poor and minority parents the same opportunity wealthier parents have to send their children to a ‘higher performing’ school.” But the wolf knows the voucher never subsidizes enough of the tuition to make these schools accessible.
Rather, vouchers add up to a discount on tuition at a high-quality private school. Families are then responsible for the remainder. Who benefits? Not poor and working-class families — the very folks we are led to believe the voucher program is for them in the first place.
“Who benefits? Not poor and working-class families.”
One Texas senator directly confessed to Pastors for Texas Children that he needs a voucher program to give his “private-school-paying families some relief.” That is who voucher programs benefit.
The wolf also knows, deep down, that most of the private schools that accept vouchers are repeatedly low performing. The conventional myth is that the private school must automatically be better than the public school, but this isn’t true.
Voucher schools, on the whole, fail students. These schools pop up untrained and unprepared, staffing with unqualified teachers and lacking in educational opportunities. Often they close after a short time, sending students back to the neighborhood public school a grade level — or more — behind.
Vouchers are a bait and switch. They lure a few kids out of the public schools with the promise of an elite education, only to reveal that those schools lack the resources and techniques necessary to educate underprivileged children.
In its wooliest sheep’s clothing, the White House claims that voucher programs actually help public schools, leaving fewer students to attend them, less crowded classrooms and lower expenditures.
It doesn’t take much sheep-shearing to cut below that lie.
Most public schools rely heavily on some form of average daily attendance, or a 10-day headcount. In other words, schools receive funding based on how many students attend. Expenditures, on the other hand, are not proportionally reduced by how many students leave the school.
Let’s say a public elementary school of 600 students has 60 kids siphoned off to a private voucher school that pops up in the neighborhood, three or four per class. Costs remain constant for that public school. The number of teachers you pay remains the same. Air conditioning costs remain the same. Buses to transport children to school remain the same.
These are basic educational arguments against vouchers that anyone who has been paying attention over the last couple of decades already knows.
Hear this loud and clear: The president of the United States wants public schools to hurt. He is punishing them in whatever ways he can find. He calls it civil rights, when it’s actually the opposite, just another tax break for the wealthy.
“Privatization of public education is re-segregating America’s schools.”
Meanwhile, most American children are left with underfunded, under-resourced, unsupported public schools.
“School choice” as the “civil rights issue of our time?” Baloney. The evidence is in: Privatization of public education is re-segregating America’s schools.
Don’t let the wolf take advantage of a country newly awakened to issues of racial injustice. Call your Senate and House member and insist they oppose any and all federal school choice voucher programs.
Underneath the social justice rhetoric that sounds so right, the wolf’s intention is the desegregation and defunding of public schools.
He will not stop until he’s ravished the entire American education system.
Charles Foster Johnson is founder and executive director of Pastors for Children.