|We've had two major, highly controversial voucher initiatives here in CA in the past fifteen years. In both cases, there was all kinds of completely illegal propagandizing in the classroom by the public school teachers, as well as proven massive use of taxpayer financed school printing of anti-voucher propaganda which was sent home via the students. |
I don't recall if the CA cap on reimbursal per child enrolled was $3,000 or $5,000, but there were all kinds of totally fallacious arguments from the anti-voucher people - mainly hacks from the public school teachers union - to the effect that no school could possibly provide a true "quality" education for such a meager sum. The fact that the huge, award winning, local Catholic high-school - Mater Dei - was doing it for LESS than the proposition's proposed payment was completely ignored by the liberal media.
The rich yuppies of Irvine and Laguna here in the OC, and the progressive puppies of Santa Monica were told that vouchers would mean funding cut from their precious progressive public schools, so they voted overwhelmingly against them. The Hispanics, who generally go along with anything a "Jefe" says, voted what their teachers told them, along with the Chinese, who were starting to dominate in Irvine.
The people, however, who were most strongly in need of the vouchers, the urban poor in East L.A. and Watts especially, not only voted overwhelmingly in favor of the vouchers, but went out and rented property and found retired teachers to set up their own schools, on the expectation that the voucher initiative would pass. In those areas, the public schools are almost like NAZI concentration camps, with barbed wire, armed guards, shootings, daily beatings, rapes, you-name-it, and the drug dealers hanging out a block or so from the school, waiting for the kids to hustle or rob them or sell them drugs.
As an anarcho-capitalist, I too have very mixed feelings about the vouchers, and a lot of the libertarians and home-schoolers opposed them - although NOT those in Watts or E. L.A. They are definitely a mixed bag. The general run of private schools, as well as charter schools, have not been all that much better by most reports than the public schools. In some well-publicized cases, the people running a charter network were skimming huge amounts of money from the funding. I.e., there was a lack of meaningful oversight, with the natural attendant problems.
Nonetheless, I am in favor of the vouchers, as they are a step in the direction of private, parental/child control over the process. I am a lot MORE in favor of home-schooling, which has a FAR better track record than ANY type of school that I'm aware of. Instead of vouchers for school, maybe there should be a bigger tax cut for child support, which would also help the home schoolers.
Teresa, the public schools, especially the highschools here in CA have become essentially just facilities for teaching to the tests that are mandated by federal and state title-grant programs. The consequence has been the dumbing-down of any kind of integrated learning experience. The classic example locally is Century High School in Santa Ana, which was set up initially in the early '90's as a magnet school for high-achievers from minority and low-income backgrounds. They started with one MacIntosh for every 4 students, plus PC labs, plus a mini-computer network that allowed teachers to instantly access lesson plans, student records, etc., from their desk. The teachers were all volunteers.
Century High, about 15 years later, is one of the poorest performing schools in the area, even in Santa Ana, where it is located. Teaching to the test has resulted in only about 50% of the kids passing the Exit Exam for 2007, required now for graduation. I.e., 50% of the students - which does not include the high percentage of drop-outs, BTW - will fail to graduate.
This in spite of the high per-pupil funding and the select admission policies that are supposed to screen for kids of high ability.
Those kids are so unhappy about the whole thing that they are ready to revolt - and they should. They should form a real union and go on strike, like out of some novel I heard of somewhere... ;-)
The point? ANYBODY could do a better job. Vouchers? Bring em on! It can't be any worse than it already is.