They work... great?
But there is education news today, too. The Palm Beach Post covered the impending Bush plan to provide $500 million for vouchers for hurricane evacuees by looking at the wonderful voucher program in Florida, which is the largest program in the nation:
Both Gov. Bush and his education commissioner, John Winn, said they had not been in contact with the White House or the federal education officials regarding the Katrina vouchers. But Bush said he thought they were a good idea and again defended the use of vouchers in Florida.
"They work great," he said.
In a series of articles, The Palm Beach Post has showed how the lack of oversight in Bush's programs has allowed home school "consultants" to receive vouchers, how an Ocala correspondence school operator with a checkered business past had set himself up as a voucher distributor and how a school founded by an accused terrorist received vouchers. (emphasis mine, of course.)
An investigation based on the articles by Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher led to arrests in both the Ocala case as well as a Christian school in Bartow. His audit of the programs also found that there were virtually no financial or academic yardsticks to measure the programs' effectiveness.
Sounds great, huh? I'm all for funding terrorist schools in America, but who isn't? So that begs the question: why not put in some oversight? Well, the Florida Senate, Republicans included, tried to do just that:
The programs have little academic or financial oversight, which some supporters and most voucher critics have tried to correct over the last two years. Christian conservatives, however, including Gov. Jeb Bush's top education aide, have prevented the Senate "voucher accountability" bill from passing.
But surely the federal program that will provide half of a billion dollars will have oversight, right? Well, maybe...
Chad Colby, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education, said agency lawyers are still working on the precise language that will then be sent to Congress.
"We're going to comply with all laws," he said. "The attorneys are working on the language to make sure it's done right."
Of course, when anyone from the Bush Administration says something will be "done right" that's your cue to cringe.
My guess is there will be little or no oversight. I hope I'm wrong.