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Monday, October 07, 2013

School vouchers a waste of taxpayer money

Politico - Vouchers don't do much for students
Politico: Ever since the administration filed suit to freeze Louisiana’s school voucher program, high-ranking Republicans have pummeled President Barack Obama for trapping poor kids in failing public schools.

The entire House leadership sent a letter of protest. Majority Leader Eric Cantor blistered the president for denying poor kids “a way into a brighter future.” And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused him of “ripping low-income minority students out of good schools” that could “help them achieve their dreams.”

But behind the outrage is an inconvenient truth: Taxpayers across the U.S. will soon be spending $1 billion a year to help families pay private school tuition — and there’s little evidence that the investment yields academic gains.

In Milwaukee, just 13 percent of voucher students scored proficient in math and 11 percent made the bar in reading this spring. That’s worse on both counts than students in the city’s public schools. In Cleveland, voucher students in most grades performed worse than their peers in public schools in math, though they did better in reading.
Private school vouchers have always been a scam. They’ve allowed Republican governors to hand out taxpayer money without any real accountability, while undermining public school teachers unions. It’s never been about helping students.

And as always, a privatization scheme has turned out to be a bad idea. It costs more and delivers less — as any thinking person would predict. Government is a not-for-profit, meaning it can operate a school at cost. Businesses are for-profit, meaning they can’t. As I’ll continue to point out until the last conservative finally understands math, cost + profit > cost. Privatization has to be either more expensive or less efficient/effective. In many cases, as we see here, it’s both.

It’s simple math. Of course, if enough people get school vouchers, everyone will suck so hard at math that they won’t be able to see the problem. After all, here’s the sort of “education” these indoctrination centers are providing:

[A]cross Louisiana, many of the most popular private schools for voucher students posted miserable scores in math, reading, science and social studies this spring, with fewer than half their voucher students achieving even basic proficiency and fewer than 2 percent demonstrating mastery. Seven schools did so badly, state Superintendent John White barred them from accepting new voucher students — though the state agreed to keep paying tuition for the more than 200 voucher students already enrolled, if they chose to stay.

Nationwide, many schools participating in voucher programs infuse religion through their curriculum. Zack Kopplin, a student activist who favors rigorous science education, has found more than 300 voucher schools across the U.S. that teach the biblical story of creation as science; some also instruct children that the world is just several thousand years old and use textbooks describing the Loch Ness Monster as a living dinosaur. Parents at one such school in Louisiana received a newsletter calling secular scientists “sinful men.”
Shut it down. For good.

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