Monday, August 31, 2015

Breaking news: School vouchers are still a scam

Breaking news: School vouchers are still a scam

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Ready for some more bad news in Pennsylvania that doesn't involve Michael Vick's bruised hand or Andy Reid's bruised cerebellum? State lawmakers are returning to Harrisburg. Their agenda? A totally inadequate fee on natural-gas drilling (maybe), restricting the right of people to vote, and a voucher program that's really an excuse to kill public education in the Keystone State.

Don't believe me? David Sirota has written a really good piece summarizing what the hedge fund billionaires trying to cram vouchers down your throat really want. There are actually several reasons -- here's one:

But, then, those policies are precisely the ones that offend and threaten rich people. So the wealthiest and most politically astute among them have constructed front groups like "Democrats for Education Reform" to press a message of education "reform" that seeks to change the subject from poverty altogether. Their message basically says that the major problem in America is not the fact that our public policies are helping make more citizens poor, nor the fact that the same economic structure that allows the Walton family to own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the whole nation has one in five kids living in poverty.

No, reformers give us what I've previously called the "Great Education Myth," telling America that the real problem is supposedly the schools -- and that if we just make radical and empirically unproven school changes then everything will supposedly be great. And, tellingly, the "reformers'" specific policy prescriptions tend only to be those changes that don't ask rich people to share in any sacrifice.

Thus, for instance, the "reformers" push to tear up teachers union contracts and demonize the structure of public schools, rather than, say, initiating a discussion about raising more revenue for schools most in need. Seeking to avoid any larger debate about raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for such new education investment, they float their favorite one liner about how we "can't throw money at the problem," even though many of the schools with the biggest challenges need more resources to combat poverty.

It's a long piece -- definitely worth a read, though.

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Will Bunch
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