School Vouchers or Scholarships: It’s all in a Name

Private companies have attempted for more than a few years to divert public money from public education through legislation. It’s been tried in my state (see Here) and been successful in others. Whether the transfer of public money is disguised as vouchers, school choice or scholarships, the end result is and will be the same…there will be less funding for our schools and more money for profiteers. (See Georgia’s “Scholarship” Program Here)

Commentary

When people select a neighborhood in which to live, raise their family or retire, they also commit to supporting the community and community services. In our county, we support our community by abiding by state laws and city codes, perhaps even homeowner’s association regulations and by paying taxes. When we become upset with city government or our local police department for not providing adequate road maintenance or after witnessing too many speeders in our neighborhoods, we don’t have the right or expectation to redirect the use of our taxes for private solutions. Just because one has enough money to relinquish the use of community services doesn’t give them the legal authority to stop paying their taxes in the same way that parents who choose to send their children to private schools should not have the legal right to redirect their public schools tax dollars to private schools.

The (Absurd) Solution

I’ll support the concept of school vouchers (aka scholarships) as long as the city, county or state will allow me to use my portion of taxes to upgrade my home alarm system or cover the cost of a private security firm to stand guard over my property when I’m on vacation. 

Because of the absurdity that a community member would expect or even request publically generated funds to be redirected for private use is the antithesis to everything about a community.

Common Good

I have no problem with private schools but I do have a problem with for-profit entities attempting and succeeding to divert public money to private schools under the guise of helping economically poor children. Public education is a public good and has served our county well for many years. It’s our civic duty and responsibility to support our public institutions and public education falls into that category. We must be diligent in defending our schools from the smooth talkers that only speak of its needed reform and benefit from the reform measures.

To borrow a line from Lamar University professor Bob Thompson: It’s our schools, it’s our money, and they are our kids!

 

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About ourschoolsblog

Rickey Williams is the author of this blog and began his career in public education in 1982. He has a deep respect for educators and the mission of public education. The author earned his doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in Educational Administration. As an adjunct, he teaches graduate level courses to aspiring campus principals. His public education experience includes teaching math and coaching to secondary students (6-12), leading campuses as the high school principal, and leading districts as the superintendent. Foundational beliefs about public education include: Students and staff must feel safe and valued while in school. Educators and parents who promote and value an education enhance a child’s education. Students must be given the opportunity to reach their academic and social potential through high expectations, sound curriculum, and differentiated instruction. Enthusiastic educators have a passion for teaching and continuous professional growth. All district employees will be examples of professional and ethical conduct and will promote and enhance a positive and collaborative school climate.
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