Carol Burris: Former lobbyist details how privatizers are trying to end public education
Over at Valerie Strauss’s column at the Washington Post, NPE chief and retired principal Carol Burris interviews Charles Siler, a former lobbyist for conservative advocacy groups pushing for school choice policies. Much of what he has to say is extraordinary.
There’s virtually no other initiative in the education space that’s a bigger priority for the Right today than creating and expanding unaccountable, unrestricted, universal voucher programs. The easiest way to recognize this reality is to look at the incredible number of school voucher bills being pushed across state legislatures just this year.
They aren’t doing it because their constituents are demanding these programs. Voters continually reject voucher programs, and in any state where a public response is permitted, the wave of public opposition to these programs dwarfs the astro-turfed support for them. They also fervently refuse to include any kind of measures to mitigate fraud, waste, abuse and lack of accountability in these voucher programs despite having evidence from established programs. But simply setting up voucher programs isn’t their ultimate goal; it’s just the current next step towards their ultimate goal.
Their ideal is a world with as minimal public infrastructure and investment as possible. They want the weakest and leanest government possible in order to protect the interests of a few wealthy individuals and families who want to protect their extraction of wealth from the rest of us. They see private wealth accumulation as a virtue signal because a person can only become wealthy by creating something of exceptional value for the public. In their world view, the more money someone has, the more moral life they’ve lived, and any attempt to take that money through taxation or other means is a moral issue.