Cecily Riesenberg: A public school teacher’s perspective on vouchers
In the Amarillo Globe-News, teacher Cecily Riesenberg explains just what the Texas voucher plan is all about.
Data shows that vouchers benefit the wealthy who need it the least, hurt the disadvantaged the most, abuse taxpayer dollars, and erase the separation between church and state. Vouchers act like a discount for wealthy students already in private schools. Picture a country club that won’t allow any new members, but now their current members get to use taxpayer money to subsidize part of their dues. Not only is everyone else stuck at the public pool, but now we’re all paying for a few people to go to the country club, and we have less money to maintain or upgrade the public pool. That’s how vouchers work in the states that have them.
There are three kinds of private schools. The first type are elite, exclusive, “country-club” schools that don’t want or need more students and won’t accept vouchers at all. These schools are able to stay elite because of their exclusivity. Then there are new private schools that pop up after states implement vouchers. New private schools don’t focus on quality education at all – they use taxpayer money to market themselves to attract more students and take more public money. After a few months, families realize these schools can’t offer what they were selling. Students withdraw, but the school keeps the money. Most of these schools close within four years, but not until after they’ve made a profit, and the students are left further behind. The third type of private schools are subprime schools that need taxpayer money just to stay afloat. These schools have a 40% failure rate.
Vouchers only offer the illusion of choice.
Many states have tried vouchers, the data shows they failed and abused public resources. Not only do charters and private schools in Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, and Louisiana, have worse educational outcomes than public schools, but when so many programs receive public money, it’s impossible to monitor where the money goes in the same way that public schools are held accountable. In Arizona, for example, an audit showed that parents were using taxpayer dollars to buy kayaks and take vacations. We can’t claim to value fiscal responsibility and support a shady cash grab for corporate charters, “service providers,” and bank fees.
You will not find a piece that lays out the problems of vouchers more clearly and succinctly. Read the full piece here.