Vouching Toward Gomorrah

Interesting new Fordham report on school vouchers and regulation (pdf).  They gathered a group with varying views, including Eduwonk, and posed some questions.  My take tended to be toward the regulatory side — overall I think that public regulations and public accountability should follow public dollars, which is one reason I’m skeptical of some voucher plans.  But as the report shows there are interesting and thorny questions there and it’s not a simple issue.   In the end the analysts at Fordham recommend a sliding scale with regulations proportionate to the amount of public funding.   That’s one option to resolve some of the differences.  

But here’s a more radical idea:  Vouchers are tied up in a debate about money following children into non-public settings based on the theory that such funding benefits the child not the institution.  That theory has been broadened through a string of court cases around Title I dollars, textbooks, and computers for low-income youngsters in private schools as well as the Supreme Court case upholding the constitutionality of vouchers.  Today in fact, though you wouldn’t know it from the rhetoric around vouchers, a lot of public money goes into private schools through Title I, the federal special education “IDEA” law, and other federal and state programs.  So much money actually that perhaps it’s time to jettison this idea of a child benefit theory and instead think about accountability from a school perspective and move toward deliniations and regulatory policies based on whether or not a school recieves public funding rather than increasingly blurry distinctions of public and private?

5 Replies to “Vouching Toward Gomorrah”

  1. But if the following is correct, then the real issue is respect for the rule of law. So, if the following is correct, shouldn’t you take the lead in framing the issue in an accurate manner?

    “Like many state charter laws, New York State’s charter legislation allows district schools to become charter schools, but requires that when they do so, their teachers retain their collective bargaining rights. So the ‘at will’ employment status laid out in the letter was not simply an arbitrary and unreasonable policy: it was a clear violation of the rights of KIPP Academy teachers under the collective bargaining agreement. The UFT had a clear obligation, the duty of fair representation under labor law, to seek redress for the individual teacher and to ensure that other teachers not face similar denials of their rights.”

  2. Yesterday the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the Arizona school voucher program was unconstitutional. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne released a statement expressing his dissapointment at the ruling. The ruling is being framed as an attack on school choice, but again very few people can give a coherent argument as to how the private schools that receive thse funds are accountable to the public—which is why although I agree with Eduwonk on this topic, I doubt seriously we will ever have in Arizona a serious discussion on this topic as long as the issue is framed in this very narrow fashion. Now some legislators in Arizona are suggesting the Arizona constititution be amended to allow the voucher program to continue. Stay tuned!

  3. I have mixed feelings regarding vouchers. I believe the powers that be are forgetting the important thing and that is for educators such as myself to educate the whole child and not just teach to the test. In order to do that, money is needed so children in both the priviat and public sector can learn. But I guess my concern is should the child recieve money for an education and that money follows him/her throughout their academic carrer or should the money go to the institution. There needs to be some type of reform becuase children are suffering and qualified dedicated teachers are getting burned out because of breaucracy and the lack of classroom support and resources needed; hence children in both public/charter schools are suffering.

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