Years ago, I was talking with a lovely director of a lovely and elite private school about private school vouchers. She was touting what her school had to offer in terms of class sizes of 12, and science laboratories and technology rooms, and truly, it was lovely.
Actual Conversation 15 years ago:
She: Why would you be against allowing poor children the ability to receive a scholarship voucher to attend this lovely school? Don’t poor children deserve the same right as rich children to come to a school like this?
Me: So, I want to understand what you just said. Rich children have a right to come to your school?
She, confused: Excuse me?
Me: Rich children have a right to walk into your office, plunk down their money and demand to be enrolled in your school?
She: Well, of course, there’s a process. There’s an application. There’s a test. There’s a committee. Our standards are very high. It protects the students to make sure they’re a good fit for our program.
Me: So, they have a right to apply. They have a right to show they have high test scores. And they have a right to hope that the committee chooses them.
She: Well, it’s much more than just test scores. We know that even a bright child must have a committed, involved family if he’s going to succeed. Our families have to demonstrate they can provide the necessary home support for the student or we don’t even consider them.
Me: I hate to be thick about it, but I’m also thinking they have to demonstrate they can pay tuition of about $20,000.
She: Well, yes, and that’s where the vouchers would come in. With vouchers, we could reduce the tuition by the amount of the voucher or even use the voucher to subsidize a scholarship. It would give poor children the same rights as our other children!
So, fifteen years have gone by and vouchers are still one of the more shameful and shakiest pillars of school reform nincompoopery.
The privately-funded ultraconservative group ALEC wants to shortchange your children and dismantle public education by robbing them of badly needed funding and giving it to private schools. Its ultimate goal is to privatize public education, which its corporate donors see as a multi-billion dollar industry just ripe for the taking.