Tuesday, September 20, 2005

School choice -- as long as you don't choose public schools

Bush's recovery plan for Katrina included nearly $500 million for private-school vouchers. According to an Education Department spokeswoman, the Administration is not ruling out the possiblity of adding more if there is enough demand to warrant it.

I don't doubt the intentions (either I'm a sucker or I just believe that somehow people are fundamentally good -- maybe both). I believe that they're trying to accomodate the educational needs of hundreds of thousands of students, many of whom attended private schools in N'Orleans. There are two main problems and People For the American Way nails them both:

Education policy experts have identified a wide variety of problems with the President’s voucher plan. Public schools are already accepting the overwhelming majority of displaced students, but they would be ineligible to receive the proposed voucher funds.

So, in other words, this is school choice, so long as you don't choose public schools? Why wouldn't public schools be able to accept the vouchers? The only way this possibly makes sense is if you subscribe to a conspiracy theory that the Administration really does hate public schools. Say it ain't so... PFAW continues:

Also, many of the private schools that could receive these funds could be ill-equipped to provide the comprehensive services that hurricane victims may need, including mental health services, counseling, free and reduced meals, and after school care—all services that public schools provide.

Private schools are great. They serve a useful purpose and, by and large, do excellent work. But they rarely have the types of supplemental services available that one would find in public schools. These services are going to be absolutely critical to Hurricane survivors. Can the private schools accepting vouchers ensure that they will be able to provide them?

I have serious doubts.


Blogger Joe Thomas said...

Great post, Doug. I disagree on one point-- that private schools by and large do excellent work.

I've begun to recognize this as a common misconception many of us hold because of a private school's exclusive nature. I am not saying they provide inadequate schooling, only that they are no better or worse than public schools. You can find good private schools, and you can find poor ones.

Overall, private school provide fewer services, an important point you make.

The half billion tax dollars the president has earmarked for private and religious schools is no more than a ideological policy move aimed at rewarding his base.

I never saw any of the money going to public schools called "public school relief." Why did he call it "private school relief" when he looked to advance his voucher agenda?

It's political. Period.

5:51 PM  
Blogger XBIP said...

You need to look a little deeper on this. It is education relief and it is a total of $1.9 Billion. MSM calling it Private School Relief.

I posted about this as well here. The $7500 follows the child wherever they attend, public or private. The other figures come from the fact that over 60,000 kids in the affected area were privately schooled before being displaced.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second objection is mysterious: Private schools don't provide enough "counseling" or other services? So freaking what? People can make up their own minds about whether their kids need those "services." And if they choose private school, that is their choice! The whole point of the federal aid is to give them enough aid to have the same range of choices as when they were back home in New Orleans.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Ruy Diaz said...

So, you hold it against private schools that they don't offer "as many" services? Could it be because they are engaged in a desperate struggle for survival against the government-funded monopoly of public "education"?

Give me a break.

2:09 PM  

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