Heresey: Why I support vouchers.

Rkmickey at Rkmickey at
Wed Aug 4 21:09:14 PDT 1999

kelley recommends:

>see _teaching in america_ for
>suggestions that i may or may not agree with given what i know to be
>jerry's thinking. but it's a start.

OK, I'll read it whenever the library's copy is returned.

>but otherwise, k.m. this is the deal. public schooling needs to remain
>public. schools--children, ALL children--are our responsibility. that
>means dealing with all the messiness and unpleasantness b/c there are no
>easy fixes here. schools suck now. they're not going to get any better
>under a market model of schooling whether charters or vouchers b/c it's
>easy to see that we don't get what we need and want in the market and so
>that's not any reason to think it'll work for schools. the deal is, and
>brown v. b.o.e. recognized this, that WE are responsible for other
>people's kids because those kids live in this society and we depend on
>them--yes, we depend on people we will never know. OTHER people's
>children. being responsible for schooling means keeping it public.

We are responsible for all the kids, yes, but that doesn't mean that only one public bureaucracy (per state, or city, or whatever jurisdiction you use) is likely to come up with the optimal way to fulfill the obligation. Neither vouchers nor charters have been up and running long enough for much reliable evaluation to have been done (at least as far as I know). But both assume a public obligation to fund schooling, while allowing for experiments with alternatives to the present method of providing that schooling. To rule out, a priori, any alternatives to the public school system as it currently exists (and as it existed before Brown v. Board, minus de jure segregation), (even with the modification you stipulate, that you

>want unions and professional education changed, fundamentally)

is to lock the overwhelming majority of kids into those schools that suck. Private schools are not going to go away any time soon -- the religious ones are "constitutionally" protected and the others aren't going to be shut down, either. With the present system of school financing, only a small proportion of kids have any chance of going to them. If that isn't changed then the inequalities won't ever be reduced even a little bit, certainly not within the school years of any pupils now within the system. And keeping the current system certainly is no protection at all against the grotesque commercialization of schooling -- Channel One, McDonalds in the cafeteria, exclusive "pouring rights" for the connected "soft drink" distributors, etc, etc, nor does it seem likely to inhibit the kinds of pressures on the teachers which you point to in the uni sector.


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