Public Schools And Parents

When the movement for school vouchers first began, proponents insisted that a “free market” in education would improve outcomes–that children no longer confined to those failing “inner city” schools would emerge better-educated. They tended to ignore pesky concerns about transportation, fly-by-night “education entrepreneurs” and the inconvenient fact that public schools serving rural folks who had no private options were losing resources so that urban kids could attend primarily religious schools.

As the years went on, numerous credible research projects showed that the magic of the market had unaccountably failed. Voucher students not only didn’t perform better, they mostly lagged behind their public-school peers.

That was inconvenient, but the intrepid opponents of American public education weren’t about to let a little thing like poor educational outcomes keep them from realizing their goals: destroying teachers’ unions, evading Separation of Church and State, and enriching donors from the for-profit education sector. So proponents pivoted from test scores to the horrors of “woke” instruction: assertions that the public schools were “indoctrinating” children by teaching them accurate history and –horrors!!–letting them read “woke” books.

The battle cry this time was “trusting and empowering parents” whose Christian family values were being undermined. It turns out, however, that a majority of parents are satisfied with their “woke” public schools.

As an article from the American Prospect explains. there was considerable discontent with school closures during the pandemic, and early successes by reactionary parent groups built on that discontent. Then they over-reached.

The new culture war over the future of education is a stalking horse for the same old battle over school choice. The not-too-hidden goal of denigrating public schools is to weaken support for teachers and their unions, and to redirect funds into school vouchers and other programs that pummel public education even further.

Polling conducted by the American Federation of Teachers in mid-December found that the culture-war framing was unpopular. Instead, voters and parents saw strong academic, critical reasoning, and practical life skills as most important, when compared to anti-wokeness. Furthermore, among the sample group, when given the option between improving public education and giving parents more school choices, 80 percent preferred improving public schools. Most revealing was that two-thirds of voters said that culture-war battles distracted public schools from their foremost role: educating students.

The article noted that even some Republican state legislators resist efforts to privatize education.

In Iowa, nine Republicans in the House, and three in the Senate, voted against a bill that would pull $345 million of taxpayer money over a four-year period into family private-school costs. Thanks to the margins in the Iowa legislature, the bill still passed. The state’s education department expects it would include an additional drop of $46 million from public-school funding as a result…

One Iowa Republican who opposed the measure  told the Des Moines Register that he represented a “very Republican, very conservative district” –and that his constituents were opposed to the measure.

The article also referred to the earlier experiment in Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback that led to a reversal of the cuts and the election of a  Democratic governor now serving her second term.

Diverting resources to voucher and “scholarship” programs has reduced funding for public school teachers, as well as for extracurricular activities, English-as-a-second-language programs, special-education programs, school bus drivers, janitorial services, and coaches. Those cuts most definitely are not in the public interest, nor are they desired by the vast majority of parents.

As NPR has reported:

Math textbooks axed for their treatment of race; a viral Twitter account directing ire at LGBTQ teachers; a state law forbidding classroom discussion of sexual identity in younger grades; a board book for babies targeted as “pornographic.” Lately it seems there’s a new controversy erupting every day over how race, gender or history are tackled in public school classrooms.

But for most parents, these concerns seem to be far from top of mind. That’s according to a new national poll by NPR and Ipsos. By wide margins – and regardless of their political affiliation – parents express satisfaction with their children’s schools and what is being taught in them…

In the poll, 76% of respondents agree that “my child’s school does a good job keeping me informed about the curriculum, including potentially controversial topics.”…

Just 18% of parents say their child’s school taught about gender and sexuality in a way that clashed with their family’s values; just 19% say the same about race and racism; and just 14% feel that way about U.S. history.

Vouchers don’t improve education, and a small minority of parents is dissatisfied with the curricula in their children’s schools. But in Indiana, evidence is irrelevant. Republican legislators are pushing hard to expand an already-generous voucher program.

They need to explain just who they are representing–and why.


  1. When I attend the local fascist school board meeting, the only people raising a fuss are the former Tea Party turned MAGA folks. The last time I attended, they were fussing over children wearing masks at school during Covid. The funny thing is that none of them had children in the school system.

    Therefore, I assume the groups fussing the loudest are what the board listens to. Same as these MAGA Republican politicians.

    In our Indiana county, the mobile inner-city white people use vouchers to take their students to county schools which are 96% white, fleeing the city schools, which have 43% minorities (legalized segregation).

    Sports is another factor because inner-city schools have seen cost-cutting measures.

    Remember, gerrymandering has carved up districts, dropping most Republicans in rural areas. These rural areas have benefitted financially from the voucher system.

    School choice allows the wealthier to benefit while the poor are stuck. As a result, parents feel like they are doing what’s best for their children when they complete a transfer request to county schools. It’s hard to convince them otherwise.

    Who doesn’t like choices? 😉

  2. The culture warriors tell us parents are the best teachers; those who measure educational outcomes beg to disagree. John Dewey would be appalled at the present state of affairs.

  3. It appears to me that the “instant gratification” and “me” generations have raised these parents to expect/demand their way to continue “instant gratification” and “me” or destroy the education system for all. The children are the victims and will be our future businessmen and women, lawmakers and teachers who can only teach what they were taught which amounts to the return to segregation and Bible lessons as history.

    “Republican legislators are pushing hard to expand an already-generous voucher program.” This is simply furthering their current foundation to end democracy, Rule of Law and rid the country of the Constitution. They have infested our daily lives deeper than the Covid-19 pandemic and there is no vaccine for this sickness.

    I am currently dealing with DirectTV Stream cable service which I thought was the AT&T cable service renamed as the description read. They arbitrarily bill my VISA monthly for cable, the Internet bill comes by mail as requested but that is an FCC issue for me at this time. The wind storm last week blew out my cable TV; I couldn’t fix it with the usual tricks, the Chat agent worked with me for 3 hours and 15 minutes and wanted to continue till I suggested the storm had damaged the cable box. She ordered a new box mailed to me to be installed by me because, she said, they don’t have technicians to send out. The cable box was installed and set up by my daughter-in-law whose sister has worked 20+ years for AT&T and said they do have technicians but have to pay them if they send them out so they don’t send them out. Why am I telling your this here; because AT&T is Republican controlled and e-classes are provided through the Internet, including theirs. I received an announcement from DirectTV Stream yesterday that they are providing all cable customers with their new, FREE, cable channel; The First on channel 349, a conservative news service channel. Should Fox News be worried? AT&T; once a quality, trusted service is now a shoddy, expensive, poorly operated cable system. When I signed on they mailed the cable and Internet boxes to my home; the salesgirl and her boyfriend came to install it. I am simply not ready for the hassle of changing at this time. And this all goes directly to the current GOP system of operations in businesses and education.

  4. This voucher program is legalized theft from taxpayers’ pockets. There is absolutely no accountability of how the money is spent. Our criminal legislature blatantly chose to ignore the separation of church and state and forced all of us to spend our hard earned dollars to pay for upgrades to church buildings that have nothing to do with education.

    I applaud Rep Ryan Mishler for making public the physical and emotional abuse that has been going on for years at a catholic school in NW Indiana. That school falls under the leadership of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese and they have done nothing to correct it and have no intention to make any changes. For those of you interested in knowing more there is an article about it in the Indiana Chronicle.

  5. It is hard to believe that anyone can not realize that their kids know more about sex and racism than they did at a comparable age. Parents might be shocked if they bothered to pay attention to what their kids see on the Internet. All teachers can do is try to rein in the kids who are experimenting, because the parents don’t seem to be accomplishing that – even the ones who try.

  6. If public schools engaged in one tenth the abuses that Catholic Church institutions have perpetrated over the years, mobs of outraged parents would be descending on them. Yet people keep sending their vulnerable children to Catholic schools. I’m sure other fundamentalist religious schools are just as bad. Or as good at turning out true believing, guilt ridden sacrificial lambs.

  7. Vouchers provides a more level playing field and INCREASES the integration of private schools. That is EXACTLY why some people on the far right, i.e. racists, oppose vouchers. They oppose integrated private schools and vouchers allows poorer minority students to provide a better education for their children.

    There has just been no credible case made as to why parents shouldn’t have choices regarding the education of their children. The days of parents being locked into only sending their children to one failing neighborhood public school is over. We’re never going back to those days. Any Democrat pushing a return to the old system is going to face a backlash from parents, including ones who traditionally vote Democratic.

  8. Gerald,

    After teaching in public schools in Texas and Colorado, I can tell you first hand that parents are the WORST sort of academics teachers. “You’re teaching my child things I didn’t know or understand.” DUH!

    Of course, the basis for this argument goes back to Milton Friedman’s insistence on free-market everything and NO government-sponsored support systems for anyone. And, naturally, Republicans and the rich embraced this false god and have proceeded to destroy everything they get their greedy hands on.

    Nancy is correct. It IS legalized theft, but when did that ever get in the way of Republican ideology? OF COURSE charter school outcomes are not better – and in many cases, worse – than public schools. I watched a charter school in Colorado Springs hire teachers who were otherwise not competent enough for the public schools.

    Diane Ravitch was “W” Bush’s administrator for No Child Left Behind, aka EVERY child left behind. She lasted a year, I think, before quitting and writing reports/books that described the dreadful outcomes from new charter schools and the punishment only system for measuring “progress”. In my book, “Saving the Seed Corn…”, I detail how she flipped and stated that NCLB was an utter failure, in that under its guidelines, 98% of all schools would be closed in 5 years.

    Self-serving Republicans don’t care about anything but money. As Todd points out, it’s the right-wing extremist ideologues who exploit the incompetence of school boards whose members, for the most part, are padding their resumes’ to run for higher office.

  9. @ Paul Ogden : The evidence appears to indicate that “more level playing field” you tout is a lower one for everyone. How do you justify the poor outcomes at voucher schools?

  10. Todd, you asked: “Who doesn’t like choices? ” Obviously, it depends on whose choices we’re talking about. Those same pro-choice Republicans don’t think women should have any choice, regardless of their circumstances, when it comes to giving birth or dying while trying. It seems they are both pro-choice and anti-choice. They’re not just morons, they’re oxymorons as well.

  11. Minimized in the discussion is how school choice strongly contributes to loss of community/social capital. Immigrants’ opportunities for social integration are damaged. Majorities fail to see that minorities are not the stereotypes that that hear about and are just people. Real public education is one leg of democracy’s stool and is being sawed off.

  12. Paul, parents have always had choices. My own exercised that choice when sending me and my siblings to private schools when they were available. They worked hard and sacrificed a lot to do so. Although we generally thrived, almost none of us are practicing the religious faith in which we were educated. The very reasons that most young people are not-affiliated or irreligious, hypocrisy and intolerance, drove us from that religious affiliation.
    Rural communities have choices. All over the state, private, religious schools have existed for decades. When vouchers were introduced, public schools in some of those rural communities began to struggle and some to close altogether.

    The GOP lead executive and legislature cemented the deal. The following is from an article on WTUI and WFIU published in 2016:
    “After the 2013 legislation, the state was now offering a 50 percent scholarship to students from more middle and upper middle class families. The new income requirements now allowed families at the 150 and 200 percent FRL level ($67,000 and $90,000 a year for a family of four, respectively) to get half of their private school tuition paid by the state.

    The second major change in 2013 was to the ways a student qualified for a voucher. Previously, a student had to go to a public school for a year or received a scholarship from a specific organization.

    Now, they could get a voucher if an older sibling received one, if their assigned public school received an “F” on the state’s accountability system, if they were a special education student or previously received a voucher.

    And the third change was the legislature said there was no limit as to how many vouchers the state could give out. If a student qualified, they received the money.”

    It is the oldest trick in the political book. Defund, then justify the action by pointing to the failure as a result of the defunding, and then defund some more based on that failure.

    None of these actions by one of the most gerrymandered states in the country has resulted in the stellar outcomes touted by the proponents of the EdChoice led drive to destroy public education. It has always been a thinly veiled goal to segregate by religious affiliation, race and/or class.

  13. Sharon pointed out the Catholic institution abuses that have been going on for centuries and that people keep sending their vulnerable children to Catholic schools that turn out guilt ridden sacrificial lambs. She also mentioned fundamentalist religious (insert evangelical) schools being just as bad.

    They are indoctrinating these children with all kinds of guilt and lies in order to keep their power and the money flowing in. Now that those religious institutions have access to taxpayer dollars they can indoctrinate even more vulnerable children while forcing the general public to foot the bill for that indoctrination.

    There is absolutely NO justification for our legislature to force all of us to financially support any type of religious training. It is even more egregious that private religious and charter schools are given tax dollars carte blanche with no accountability whatsoever.

    I am calling Senator Mishler’s office today to ask him to remain committed to refusing to approve the voucher expansion unless accountability measures are attached.

  14. back a decade or so ago, the town tax board and those in it had to come up with,we needed money to keep the lights on,in a city,that has probably better wages and tax base than most. they decided to,and after a public meeting, to cut the school buses.. yea, now imagine,you go to work at 7AM,,and get off at 2.30 pm.or after 5 pm.. seems the parents/citizens who wanted this.
    now they had to get up early,or ,find a ride, or, well you get the picture. after a few months of this i believe they decided to turn off the street light between corners..if a tax base in a college town and its alumni and its educated cant get it right, then obviously the better off citizen was going to get what they wanted at any costs.
    good response on this subject.I loved it..other states should have todays blog posted as not what to do..on thier school bullitin boards..

  15. Nancy;Amen….
    im a fallout of this scam to.. i did better in a inner city public school. (newark,n.j)and I didnt get my head bashed in as much. those nuns can be brutal..

  16. Here we go again,

    Government needs to stay out of the bedroom! That being said, a caveat to this would also be, stop forcing your bedroom activities on the public! Private life, needs to stay private! And definitely, this current generation is very knowledgeable about the gender issues. It doesn’t need to be beat into anyone’s head. Least of all the youngest, sentient, age appropriate among us.

    The general welfare clause as was mentioned yesterday guarantees the welfare of every citizen. That every citizen is treated equally. Or that was the supposed thought or idea behind it. Of course we have to remember, that those who were in positions of authority, the superior authorities so to speak, looked at things much differently. There was still slavery, gay behavior was popular in high society, and frowned upon in the lower class ranks. And, if you look throughout history, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, those were the individuals who had the most influence! But, they did not force their bedrooms on the general public.

    Anyway, I digress, the general welfare clause uses commerce and taxes as its source of leveling the playing field, it also was intended to be used as the carrot and and or the stick!

    States that go against the federal government can be penalized by being taxed themselves or tax money withheld, commerce disrupted! And absolutely, those states, especially the voters in those states, will kick out their politicians when things become, or I should say reach critical mass. Food costs, utility costs, sustainment, education, will all be impacted. That affects everyone! And that will move individuals to reevaluate.

    This voucher system was concocted as a workaround to impart specific beliefs, dogma, and ideas into the body of school students and if they can’t do it one way, they will do it another by bankrupting public schools.

    I don’t understand why the federal government allows this stuff to happen as some sort of enlightened epiphany which basically leaves so many in the dark and left behind.

    The real jet fuel behind this voucher system was the No child Left behind, this gave rise to those vouchers, and, the rapid decline of public education. Now, children can be indoctrinated into untruthful information, basically taught lies! All the while trying to exist in a structure that is collapsing rapidly all around us!

    The federal government has the ability to correct these things without fiddle farting around, but none of them have the stones to do it! So, just like Nero, playing music as society emolates. It’s like Jenga, pulling enough pieces, it ends up in a heap of unrecognizable firewood! All done in the name of democracy? More like done in the shadow of inaction and fear.

    And, one more thing on the bedroom subject so to speak, we can also add bathroom to that. In Europe, almost every single bathroom I had encountered was unisex! They don’t have or tolerate this odd American problem in Europe!

    We can talk about our differences, but don’t force your beliefs and paranoia on me, and that should be the credo, do not “FORCE!” Keep your private business private, when you do that, you can tell the government to mind theirs, and keep their nose out of yours.

    Stop vouchers, if you want to send your kid to a private school or religious school, pay for it! Don’t expect me to, Just keep paying your taxes, government needs that money!! Public bathrooms should be open for everyone. If someone is worried about seeing something that could cause a personal issue, make sure every bathroom has stalls! Just like Europe, they actually have Floor to ceiling rooms with doors that lock in every single public bathroom that I’ve seen. Problem solved! And, if you have problems washing your hands with anyone else in a public bathroom, they make a pill for that, go see a head shrinker!

  17. @ Peggy Hannon –

    I read an article yesterday that Virginia’s Governor, I believe, struck out a bill in a Committee that told the police they couldn’t search for a woman’s menstrual record.

    The police and judicial system can issue a search warrant to obtain a woman’s menstrual records from health and lifestyle apps. My jaw dropped…

    The Democrats tried to rescind that ability, but the bill died when the Governor intervened, thus allowing the police to track a woman’s menstrual period from iHealth, etc.

    Talk about privacy disasters when the police can access sensitive information…

  18. Power to some of the people begins with diminishing everyone different by assuming some dysfunctional dimension in each of them. That has been known as racism but conservatives magic marker has erased it under cover of “wokeness”. In fact Nikki Haley has erased racism in the country by the simple means of denying it. That’s also the conservative cure of anthropogenic global warming. Truly magic.

    Now they’re attacking a dimension that they have fallen behind on. Absorbing human knowledge. They are using the same denial strategy, erasing great swaths of it from books.

    At this rate their goal of returning to pre-Constitutional days might be realized pretty quickly.

  19. I have seen the ads on t.v. asking for more money for charter schools. They are described as being public schools. The ads are designed to make charter school students seem at a disadvantage compared to public schools. Something like $7,000 per student . Really? Are charter schools public schools or not? Which is it? It seems to me that parents could make up that difference rather quickly by sending their kids to public schools, period. End of problem.

    I think charter schools are really a means to resegregate the schools. Approximately half my property taxes goes to education and I resent having those tax moneys used to resegregate the school system.

  20. Pete,

    Originalists should/would embrace The general welfare clause. But, as was brought out yesterday; ‘What was’ considered the general welfare back when the Constitution was written? Does it pertain to this day and age? We know that only wealthy white landowners were allowed to vote and basically ruled the roost. If we look at that as originalist, then, it’s pretty self-explanatory! That’s one of the main drivers behind being originalist! Everyone else besides white wealthy males are relegated towards servitude.

    The voucher system was always meant to bankrupt public education, that way, the poor and the minorities would basically become poorer, illiterate and much easier to control. The history of past injustices erased from history books and records, those injustices forgotten.

    You want to read an article about the white man’s burden so to speak, look at Ann Coulter and what she had to say about Nikki Haley! About worshiping cows and rats, and that she should go back to her own country. And that and Colter claimed she was the real American. So there you have it! Originalist? Those Who would not be taught the actual history, but a revised version of it, would be encouraged to swallow any sort of made up swill by those who claim they are the superior ones, the chosen! That was the belief back then, and, is now! Just ask Rudyard Kipling! (The White Man’s Burden)

  21. Oh, just where have I encountered the concept of “Inconvenient Facts” before?
    Let me see…ah, yes, when Faux News called the Az. race for Biden, many Faux
    News fans ran off to where they could get the kind of “news” they preferred. I’ll
    venture a guess that these same people disproportionately just love them some
    Christian education for their kids, so they an follow the “Prophet” who claimed to
    know that TFG would win a 2nd term as Chief Liar, and who now claims that he’s
    been told by his sky fairy that DeSantis is the fairy’s choice for ’24.
    When the facts do not abide with your bias, you simply look for “Alternative” ones,
    After the recent ‘Premillenial” attack on police in Oz, I’m beginning to wish that I were
    a petrel, rather than a human. They had their facts all caught up in their very own
    “sovereign nation” Christian script.
    Sorry for the mini-rant, I just had to get this stuff off my chest.

  22. The evangelical agenda is being manipulated by economic interests with the intention of returning to an economic and social structure like the1800s. If those interests succeed, they will eventually discover that the poor really can and will eat the rich. Meanwhile nations suffer.

  23. I have always wondered about the voucher proponents (actually not – I always understood their real goal – public money for religious indoctrination and destruction of teachers unions and public schools in general), but more so remembering some interviews years ago from Chinese school officials. They knew they could outdo the US in rote learning, but what they felt unable to do was teach creativity.

    I understood then, as we do now, that teaching that there is one true answer only destroys creativity. America’s best schools expose our students to many voices, especially in the “soft” subjects, literature and the arts. BTW, one IT company I worked for favored music majors in their training programs. They believed that they became better programmers.

    Of course the US has always had its “teach the three Rs and stop there” proponents.

    I will say this again, and I have lived through it as a “pass for white”, middle class kid. When you take money and status from public education, those who CHOSE to remain, or have no alternative end up with, forgive the expression “Ni**er” schools. Schools written off as hopeless, so no effort is expended in actual teaching.

    The head of my high school math department told our class that most of us couldn’t handle higher math. If we could, we would have gone to the “magnet school”. It also helped that the class was racially mixed, and I suspect that the teacher was a racist, but he got away with it. He stopped teaching for the last six weeks of the year, and did a poor job before that.

    The difference between the private sector and the public sector is that if it doesn’t make a profit, the private sector scraps it. The public sector is supposed to serve the public good – end of story. If “55 Chicago schools” are failing, you don’t say “screw them” and starve them for resources, you put more resources into them and do what is needed to improve them.

    apologies for the rant

  24. Len,

    Nothing to apologize for, if you need to say what you need to say, then that’s what you do. Hopefully, those individuals who don’t know much will learn something, lol!

  25. The vast majority of voucher recipients are from families whose kids have never been attended a public school and who are NOT poor enough to qualify under the original income limits. So why are we draining public schools that accept all students to finance private schools which discriminate? Some 90% of voucher schools are church affiliated and preference the children of their own congregation over all others.

    If all taxpayers must be forced to finance these schools, then the children of all taxpayers should be eligible for enrollment.

  26. Yes! “If all taxpayers must be forced to finance these schools, then the children of all taxpayers should be eligible for enrollment.”
    Or, go back to taxpayers funding public schools. Period. If parents want to send children to private schools or to homeschool, they pay for it. Keep it simple. Keep it fair.

Comments are closed.