The lieutenant governor says school vouchers are coming next year. The governor is cool with that.
I used to be for a voucher system. Why should my tax dollars go to a public institution when I send junior off to a private school?! As long as I'm making sure he/she is getting an education, then all is well and I'm happier since my money (taxes and direct pay) is going to where I want them to go.
Then I thought long term about it. Such a system should generate more need for private schools, this increase in demand should create a teacher migration toward the private, better paying schools. The parent(s) who could not afford to send their child to a private school would turn in the voucher for public education. Thus, the poor would be educated by the 'lesser' teachers and the rich would receive the 'better' teachers. Facilities would be affected as well. Why would legislators allocate more money to public schools for their infrastructure when 51+% get educated in the private sector? Schools would have to consolidate and class size would increase, busses would need to go further, etc..
Now, look at what is being done. The voucher would start in the urban/poor areas. Why? so that the 'disenfranchising the poor' argument couldn't be made. So, the foot gets in the door and then the program is expanded to the 'burbs and then the teaching corporations buy their way to licensure, the inner city pilot schools die since those companies would much rather take their business to the 'burbs.
Admittedly a negative view, and it may not all come to pass, but what if it does? what could be done to fix it once it happens? not much I'm thinking.
One more point. Doing this dilutes or disbands the TEA. One more union's political strength flushed away on the backs of the poor and the sheep.
I'm not sure the assumption that private schools pay teachers better across the board. If they do, then the best teachers are already migrating there, so your scenario would only increase a bit more but not necessarily be a huge change.
What vouchers give parents is a choice! The more options we have the better off we tend to be. The way I see it is that parents who place a high value on education will be more involved and more likely to keep their children in public schools so long as the public school is doing a good job. This helps even those who aren't paying close attention.
Right now the public schools may not have as much incentive to improve since the competition is not very heavy. If/when parents have flexibility then the public schools will have to meet the demands of the customer and focus on better results, safety, etc. Right now schools seem to be very focused on attendence - because they get dollars based on daily headcount.
I think you have some well reasoned arguements but I still find it hard to come to a conclustion that people should remain with fewer options rather than a wider variety. Most marginalized are those middle class people who could almost afford better school for thier child but just can't quite make the budget work.
Also I think of how many in favor of public education seem to fight hard against anything different, charter schools, merit pay, and such. Why take a one-size-fits-all approach when we know that students learn in different ways and have different needs? Vouchers will allow for versitility and special focus.
So far as I have read on proposed vouchers in this state, the parents directive would only take away a portion of what that student costs. So for every child that leaves about 20% of their money would remain. In this way public schools would end up with MORE money per pupil for those students who remain in the public system. That is they should be able to provide better materials and higher teacher pay! Win-win!
A good documentary is available on education 'Waiting for Superman', it is pretty well unbiased in my opinion because while it exposes problems in the common public school system it was done by the same guy who made the Obama 2012 campaign commercial. So it's not like he's some rabidly partisan director.
Sheep? Worried about a union's strength? The latter is a special interest group, they only loose if they can not provide a good service. Nothing holds them back from doing their best and when students are getting what they need no one seems to care whether the teachers are in a union or not. As a student I never cared or knew which of my teachers were in the NEA. Let's focus on education and not who has political sway.
This is the latest battle against poor and middle class Tenesseans by far right Republicans to divide our society even more between rich and poor. This is pure class warfare and another attempt to give welfare to the wealthiest in our society.
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