October 24, 2021
Wayne “Dempsey” Worner: Defund education: Here’s how!
Published by Peter Greene
Worner is a retired professor and dean emeritus of the College of Education at Virginia Tech. He takes issue with those arguing for vouchers.
At a recent Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting, board members were discussing what legislative priorities they would support in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.
At that meeting, a majority of the board expressed support for legislation that would approve vouchers and/or tax credits that would divert tax money from the public schools to individuals who choose to have their students attend private schools or be homeschooled.
Were those policies to be approved, several outcomes are predictable:
The first is the resegregation of Virginia’s schools on the basis of family economic conditions. Under any such plan, the costs for students to participate in an alternative program would likely exceed the value of the voucher (or other incentive) and require additional funds from the family. Consequently, not all families would have the same opportunity to select an alternative program. In addition, most students in public schools have transportation provided by the public school system. Public transportation would not be available to students attending charter or other private school programs. For those who have no transportation option, there is no access to the alternative program(s). Without access, there is no choice.
It is highly unlikely that the alternative programs will have the capacity to provide high quality programs for the 15% or more of students with special needs. Programs and services for many/most of this identified population are more costly than the programs offered to the general population. With any significant number of students departing the public schools, the population left behind will have a higher concentration of students from poor families and a higher concentration of high cost, special needs students. Meaning? The per pupil cost for those students who remain in the public schools will increase.
Finally, it is not clear how the alternative programs will be evaluated. At worst, there will be no oversight of how the funds are spent and the outcomes. At best, there will be significantly less oversight and quality control than that which currently exists.
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