The Devil and the Details

I see where applications for Indiana’s private school vouchers have doubled, in the wake of the legislature’s action last session relaxing the criteria.

School Choice Indiana’s president was quoted as ecstatic, and noted that participation in the program has quadrupled since it was first introduced.

Happy days. Public schools not up to snuff? Don’t bother fixing them–privatize! (We all know that government can’t do anything right, and the private sector can’t do anything wrong.)

I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything that in Madison, Wisconsin, private schools that are currently participating in that state’s voucher program are vigorously resisting proposed new requirements that they make public their students’ achievement data.

Accountability is evidently only for public schools.

The sponsor of the Wisconsin measure, Senator Luther Olsen, is the Republican chair of the state legislature’s Education Committee. He wants the Legislature to be a “careful steward of taxpayer dollars.” As he put it, “No matter if you’re a public school, a charter school or a choice school, if you get a check, you should get a check up.”

That seems eminently reasonable. If tax dollars are going to private schools, the very least we should expect is information about the effectiveness of the programs those dollars are supporting. Furthermore, if parents are going to make informed choices about where to send their children to school, it seems only fair that they should have access to basic information about the performance of the schools they are considering.

According to news reports, however, Wisconsin’s non-public schools are adamantly opposed to making their results public, and the legislature is unlikely to pass the measure.

Interesting, isn’t it? The most vocal critics of public schools–the advocates and beneficiaries of voucher programs that bleed resources from the public system to support their own institutions, the people who insist upon testing and accountability for public schools–aren’t so enthusiastic about performance reviews when they are the ones being evaluated.

I guess sauce for the goose gets kind of bitter when it’s poured on the gander.


  1. The tea party republicans do not show signs of growth yet
    I guess they are loving being the party of stupid
    City / State / National … all dumb and proud of it

  2. Stand for Children – funded by corporate interests wanting to privatize schools – distributes information to parents in neighborhoods where private schools need enrollment saying that public schools in the area are failing. (They don’t identify any failing school by name.) And then they invite parents to contact sources where they learn if they qualify for a voucher.

    When charter schools took off in Indianapolis, private school enrollment plummeted dramatically – much more so than IPS enrollment. That likely provided more incentive for vouchers than anything else.

    Private schools are pushing hard for special ed. dollars but WITHOUT requirements to comply with the American’s with Disabilities Act and WITHOUT the need to provide special ed. services. Private schools want to send special ed. students BACK to the public schools for special ed. services even though the public school would no longer be receiving funds for these students.

    At some point, private schools will destroy public schools’ ability to provide such services to anyone. And yet the private schools would have us believe they are on a Christian mission.
    It seems only public schools feel the need to honor Jesus’ biblical welcome, embrace, and service to ALL children

  3. What is so difficult to understand that dwindling tax dollars designated for public education are to be used for public education; not deposited and removed to turn over to private schools in the form of vouchers? This has become some sort of government sanctioned Ponzi scheme. What is so difficult to understand that separation of church and state means that our dwindling tax dollars designated for public education are not to be used to support religious-based schools which make up the majority of private schools filling with voucher students? Being supported by tax dollars puts the test results of voucher students within the area of public information. Do test results of home-schooled students, these tests are paid for by parents, become part of public information along with public school test results?

    And in the middle of all of this debate that shouldn’t be, are the students in our public schools who are being denied quality education paid for by all of us who pay taxes. Let us not forget the screwed up mess that the recent ISTEP testing became through private business computer errors.

  4. School Choice is not parent choice…just because you qualify for a voucher doesn’t mean your child is getting into the school you want. If your child doesn’t “fit” in some way, the voucher is denied.

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