Is Eduwonk in the tank for the E-Rate? Several readers have written wondering why Friday’s news round-up ignored unfavorable coverage of the E-Rate program like the stories here and here. Worry not, Eduwonk (a) was just busy and didn’t have time and (b) does not, at least for the most part, condone graft. The problems with the E-Rate are indeed eyebrow raising but should be kept in perspective. Thus far what has come to light seems more an issue of unscrupulous vendors and carelessness or incompetence by a few school districts. As Congress looks at universal service issues the E-Rate may well need to be modified (and better focused) but should not be scapegoated.
Meanwhile, Educationweak, written by Reason’s Lisa Snell, takes Eduwonk to task for calling attention to accountability shenanigans in Florida’s voucher program. Among other problems with FL’s program, some participating private schools are not accredited. She argues that most Florida public schools are not accredited while most private ones are and most (84 percent she says) voucher students are in accredited schools. Talk about moving the goal posts! The law, at least according to a primary Republican sponsor, requires accreditation for participating private schools (though the state disputes that view of legislative intent). Some participating private schools are not accredited. That, not the status of other public or private schools, the merits of accreditation, or any of the rest, is the issue. You can’t just follow the parts of laws you happen to like. By the way, voucher supporters would probably get a lot further if they’d make peace with the idea of at least some regulatory oversight, we are talking about public dollars after all…but at least Reason is pretty consistent on this point. Unlike some voucher proponents they don’t make claims on “accountability” in the first place but are refreshingly forthright libertarians.
Sunshine State Afterthought: By the way, Eduwonk is not carrying NEA water here, even the FL voucher program’s supporters are demanding some improvements.