Voucher parents aren’t the villains of the debate, they are the pawns.

Former
Senator Al Lawson writes
I have little tolerance for those
who try to cast these parents as villains in public education. Education is a
not a zero-sum game, and this scholarship is simply about giving poor families
more options.
I don’t know if he is naive or if he
thinks the public is because vouchers is a lot more than giving poor families
more options and the pro voucher crowd uses those same poor families he claims
to care about as pawns in the education debate.
First let me say no matter how often
Lawson and the other supporters of vouchers repeat it, it doesn’t make it true.
Yes some of the students who took vouchers and left public schools were struggling
but some were doing very well too. Vouchers have more to do with parents
wanting a religious education, their distrust of gov’ment schools and
irrational hatred of teachers unions that getting better education outcomes. I
know this because the states own experts says the children that get vouchers
don’t experience better outcomes and I would add that private schools can pick
who they take and keep and put requirements on parents, which are significant
advantages when determining performance. These also help mitigate the facts
that private schools that take vouchers
don’t have to have certified teachers or
teachers with degrees, recognized curriculums and many teach creationism as
science.
Then for every independent group Lawson
can come up with to say vouchers save money I can find a handful of superintendents
and parent organizations that bemoan the loss of resources and report being
able to do less and less because of it. Does Lawson really think the annual
siphoning of hundreds of millions of dollars has not just no effect but a
positive one?     
Furthermore
there are lots of reasons why people oppose the expansion of vouchers. First
for religious reasons, vouchers don’t just blur the line between church and
state, it obliterates it. There is the accountability, that Lawson and many
voucher supporters’ fight against and the fact vouchers annually siphon
hundreds of millions out of public schools and the tax base which pays for many
services.
If
we are being honest other than a religious education there is very little that students
who take vouchers can get that they couldn’t get in public schools and the
public should not subsidize a family’s choices to leave. There is no manifest
need that Lawson or the other voucher proponents can point too.
Are there great schools that take
vouchers? Undoubtedly is what the states voucher expert David Figilo reports
but he also says there are very poor ones too and unfortunately Lawson instead
of weeding out the bad apples wants to expand the program. Also where are his
cries insisting that Florida’s public school children receive adequate
resources? They weren’t to be found in his op ed and that should tell you all
you need to know about where his loyalties lie. Instead all he is interested in
doing is beating the voucher drum, willing to undercut the many who attend
public schools to help the few who choose not to.

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