Heresy: why I support school vouchers

Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Mon Aug 2 13:45:03 PDT 1999

At 02:10 PM 8/2/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Rkmickey at quotes Jose G Perez:
>> The labor "leaders," "progressive" democrats and the ACLU crowd are
>> all horrified at the thought that Black and Hispanic parents having
>> vouchers because they might choose the "wrong" school, and --horror
>> of horrors-- even a religious school. "Separation of church and
>> state," say these hypocrites, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF WHOM sends their
>> kids to an inner city school, all of whom send their kids to PRIVATE
>> schools, safe in the knowledge that economic barriers will keep their
>> children from being contaminated by ghetto kids.
>Well, I'm not any kind of labor leader, and I can't call myself a
>Democrat anymore, not even a "progressive" one, not after AFDC and
>Kosovo, but I am a dues-paying card-carrying ACLU member, so I guess
>it's me whom Mr. Perez is addressing as "hypocrite.".
>My older daughter attends a "magnet school" in Tampa which, I think,
>qualifies as an "inner-city" school. I went to Florida public schools
>thirty years ago, and they were a bad joke. But in her "magnet school,"
>the curriculum is astoundingly rigorous; she's getting a education I
>would never have dreamt you could get from a Florida public school. Her
>school, Tampa Bay Tech, is the best American public high school I've
>ever seen or heard of in my entire life, even though that fraud Jeb!
>Bush and his State Department of Education gave it a "C" rating. (The
>absurd school-grading system is part of Jeb!s scheme to undermine the
>Florida public school system with his vouchers.)
>I have two younger children, and I was hoping that when they get old
>enough, they too would enjoy the first-rate public school programs my
>older daughter currently participates in, but thanks to Jeb! and his
>vouchers scheme, I suppose that's not going to happen. Divide and
>conquer, the rich bastards win again.

I can say the same thing about public school system in Baltimore - which is a bad joke, except for t emagnet schools. My son went to a regular (or "zoned") high school for about two weeks - where a successful day was defined as the absence of a major injury or shooting. Then he transfered to a public magnet school - or a college prep school as it was called - which he attended for the rest of his high school 'career.' In sharp contrast to the "zoned" schools, the magnet school curriculum was very rigorous - to the point that he scored in the five top percentile on the SAT (I know, know, standardized testing sucks - the only point I'm trying to make is that public schools can do a very job in preparing kids for anything, even standardized tests).

As to the voucher thing - I do not think that religious right is the driving force behind it, although they would certainly benefit from it. I think it is major corporations - who want education publicly funded, but privately controlled. This is the whole idea behind 'privatisation.'

Two years ago I attended a European Foundation Centre conference in Brussels, and I accidentally found myself at a session devoted to private education. The panel was composed almost exclusively of the US corporate schmucks - someone from IBM, pharmaceutical industry, etc. (I wondered what that vermin had to to do with European education), extolling the virtues of school vouchers. The thing they liked particularly well was heavy emphasis of these voucher schools on courses designed to popularize corporate products and providing training corporate bosses wanted. In a word, they served as corporate propaganda centers.

Of course, private schools can be much more easily transformed into corporate propaganda outfits than public schools, hence the drive toward privatisation. There is only one drawback - money. Low income people - the main target of that propaganda effort - can seldom afford sending their kids to a private school. Vouchers effectively "solve" that problem. In a way, they are a way of corporate bosses saying to the public sector "pay up and fuck off of our schools."


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