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Trump Touts School Vouchers as Evidence Increasingly Shows They Hurt Children


Trump Touts School Vouchers as Evidence Increasingly Shows They Hurt Children

Nadia Prupis, staff writer

President Donald Trump, Education Secretary Besty DeVos, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Friday will tout school vouchers under the guise of providing "choice" to students—even as more research emerges that vouchers are no way to help children.


"If we want to give parents a real 'choice' of quality schools, we should invest in neighborhood public schools with a menu of proven policies. All of these yield much higher returns than the minor gains that have been estimated for voucher students." - Martin Carnoy, Stanford professor and EPI research associate

Why even pander to the notion that school vouchers are intended to provide 'Parental Choice' or 'higher returns' with respect to educational achievement. The goal of vouchers, and the privatization/voucher movement, is to yield 'higher (financial) returns' for the private businesses that run schools on a for-profit bottom line.


Exactly , it is another scheme for profit and deunionization. Plus this nonsense that tax payers should support religion is against what our country stands for - if these people want a theocracy they should live somewhere else.


Vouchers, and this new tax break end run, are BS solutions. Invest in the traditional public school system.


They are meant for Wall Street investors.


I guess they think we were stupid enough to forget about the Wall Street crash, and the recession and sequester. Now, they think they can get away with this defunding. Well, MA governor tried that, and it crashed and burned on him. That's what happens when a tea party governor tries these policies in a blue state.


First, most private schools are NFP 501(c)3's, so the "for-profit" concept doesn't apply.

Second, the "religious" aspect should be a non-sequitor. Some schools are religious. Others aren't. Vouchers don't force children to go to a religious school. If a parent would otherwise have wanted to send their child to one, vouchers would help. But the parent could easily have sent the child to a non-religious school.

Vouchers are the opposite of force in this regard. If a parent received a voucher, he doesn't have a mandate to send his child a to a private school. But if his child is at an underperforming school, this give the child a new opportunity at a better school that the child otherwise could not have had.

I tend to presume that parents are intelligent enough to know what's best for their children and know which school is the better option. I'd rather leave that choice in the parents' hands than in the hands of bureaucrats.

The logic of these studies just seems odd. If a child now has the option to, by definition, attend a better school (as, again, one would have to logically assume that the parent is smart enough to know that the new school is better than the existing one), then I'd have a hard time believing that students perform worse once they attend a better school of their choosing. As it is, for many of these charter schools, there's a lottery system, because too many children want to finally leave the horrendous government school they were previously attending and the charter school cannot support all of them. The demand should be evidence enough.

And as always, the concluding logic of the article is flawed. Socialism always assumes that success of government programs (or schools) is right around the corner...if we only allocated a little more money.


There is so much here that is wrong and needs rebuttal:

It is extremely naive to believe that the not-for-profit status means that no profit is made. It simply means that it is not taxed. Plus, even to the extent one would want or need to avoid having a profit (even though this is not required under the IRS rules), the organizers can easily pay themselves exorbitant salaries or push the money out to service/administration providers, often owned by them as well. So don't fall for the ploy that non-profit means there is no profit incentive and no profit.

This totally misses the point. In our society and under our Constitution, the Government is prohibited from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion." A voucher system that pays for religious education violates this constraint It doesn't matter that someone with a voucher could go somewhere else.

Even if parents are as intelligent as you assume, there is no evidence they are qualified to make this choice or have the information necessary to reach an appropriate conclusion. I'd rather have a universal public school system that is fully supported by our system and not undermined by splitting off its resources to private interests. Your ad hominen attack on bureaucrats is a common logical fallacy, lacking any foundation or persuasive force and will be ignored.

This argument is the non sequitur. If we have under-performing schools, the solution is make sure they have the facilities, resources and teachers comparable to high-achieving schools. Also, there is no "by definition" better school condition here. The data show the opposite -- e.g. read the article. There is a sinister, racist and economic justice undercurrent to the notion that we should just let under-performing schools shrivel up, while funding an under-performing alternative voucher-based school, instead of making sure that the schools that under-perform have the same funding and resources as high-performing schools. Your solutions leads to long-term decay for the students left behind and even you recognize that this will occur with your reference to the lottery system. The demand you refer to is only evidence of the desire for a better education, not evidence that charter or private schools are the correct solution to the problem, especially in the light of the fact they under-perform compared to our public schools.

You implicitly assume, with no proof or credible reference that our public schools are not successful. This is the common canard of the voucher/private school advocacy crowd. In fact, our public schools, on the whole, are quite successful and those that are not should be given the resources to get them there. Failure to do so is a cruel and unusual sentence of inferiority to those students attending those schools. Unleashing vouchers will only exacerbate that problem and will deny another generation of citizens the opportunities the rest of us have to succeed in life.

Your character assault on "socialism" is also a form of the ad hominen attack. It also presumes that socialism is somehow always wrong, bad, or evil in some way. Of course, vouchers are a socialist idea, too, but you seem ignore that. Democratic socialism, or just plain government for that matter, is simply a tool. When we can accomplish together a greater, better and less expensive solution to a problem by doing it through our government, that is what we should do. It's a pragmatic choice, not an ideological one. Your comment, implicitly, is simply an ideological opposition to an ill-defined, not understood, concept of "socialism."

Your logic is flawed. The data show you are wrong. You offer a path of running away from the problem, not solving it. If you want to solve it, dedicate the public resources necessary to give every student the kind of learning environments we find in the schools of our gated communities, don't split off some of our children to have a separate, and (to use your term) "by definition" unequal education system. We got rid of that concept in Brown v. Board of Education.


First, most private schools are NFP 501(c)3's, so the "for-profit" concept doesn't apply. tvorandftc

Data from 2011-2012 shows that the number of students enrolled in for profit EMOs is 462,926 which is greater than the 445,042 students enrolled in non-profit EMOs.
(Source: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/EMO-profiles-11-12 )

Can you provide alternative data on student enrollment?

The fact is, tvorandftc, the voucher/private school movement follows from the Ayn Rand / Milton Freedman lunacy of Darwinistic Capitalism. Sure, educated and affluent, mainly white, parents will be able to ensure that kids get a better education at a lower cost. The majority of low-income kids, whose parents don't have the time or skills to ensure that their kids get into the top schools, will be stuck in the capitalist hell that exists for the losers in free plutocrat-favoring market competition.



Trump take your voucher and shove it, your elite class have a choice to pay private schools tuition but don't have to. We pay taxes to educate our children not to spend it on elite's choice wars of terror. Enough is enough and we want accountability from the Pentagon and military contractors, where is our money going? Every cent of it must be accounted for and no tax breaks for the wealthy, Bush, Clinton and Reagan all gave our country to their bastard elite buddies and we want it back.


The following should be encouraged viewing for the kids:


Not unless we think creatively. I am thinking of SNCC Free schools that can serve as after school classes where kids will learn the radical perspective. There are still red diaper babies among us who might be inspired to lead the charge.


Great idea. You think the Republican will drop the idea if we start providing socialist charter schools?


Disclosure: I taught public grades 3rd through freshman college, from 1987 through 2003, (science, math, critical thinking, writing and wilderness sustainability). A very good article! It must be noted that most, if not all of these "private" schools, must make a profit. Their assets will eventually get sold-off at bargain basement prices - a scam based on lies set into being in the '80's - our children to be taught "useful occupations", often like mechanized, computerized, obedient commodities - where the "best" go to the highest bidder - the rest left to be preyed-upon by the "invisible hand" forces of the "free trade" "marketplace".

Are we a family in these here United States of America or what? We are being purposefully divided. A heavy-handedness and tight-fisted meanness is being metted-out to us as if we were chattel. A voucher is outright theft of our country's treasure - our children's fair chances at a livable planet and their earned trust in us, their family, who promise all is good and all is true in America, for reals.

$voucher$. Their origin is based on the scam that public schoolteachers were "liberals" - "Oh my god!" So let's start "distance learning"- it sucks! Once, I was one of its big proponents in the early 90's, but DL cannot replace a teacher-student dynamic. Teaching is an Art. Learning is a continuum of absorbing concepts filled with beautiful detail that all makes sense, somehow! And feeling a belonging in this life as one who is comfortable in one's own skin. Seeing our feelings being shared with dozens of classmates - is being human! Learning cannot be packaged as a commodity - as this school or that school. To make someone more machine-like, is a hideous perversion that only corporations could invent or want. These so-called "persons" see public schools as their enemy. Problems were manufactured, purposefully in the corporate media, over time. This is a very complicated story that extends over decades, where corporate interests purposefully designed attacks on public school teachers while pulling their financial support through buying political favors. By targeting "liberal" teachers, like myself and stripping funding ultimately brings us to today.


Like the tax credits for health insurance the vouchers are just a give away to the rich who already send their kids to private schools. This will also lead to private school inflation since more money available to pay them means prices go up.

I'd also follow the money trail. Who benefits the most? For-profit education is one of the largest U.S. investment markets, currently topping $1.3 trillion in value. For twenty years, business oriented foundations – such as Gates (Microsoft), Walton (Wal-Mart) and Broad (Sun Life) – have poured billions into charter school start-ups . They have financed media campaigns and supported privatizing reformers. Wall Street hedge fund operators, leverage-buy-out artists and investment bankers have joined the crusade. They finance schools, sit on the boards of their associations and the management companies that run them. Tellingly, they often make support of charter schools one of the criteria for donations to politicians. Since most Republicans are already on board for privatization, the pressure to join the privatizers has been mostly directed at Democrats.

Besides promoting Christanity or Judaism and stuff like Creationism, there is a significant international component due to the promise of visas for a foreign investors families.

A total of 150 schools in the US including at military bases for servicemens children are funded by Turkish investors affiliated with followers of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish preacher of Islam who has built a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement in his name. He has created the largest single charter school network in the entire country. Actually his schools are in 160 countries Gülen was kicked out of Turkey because his network was exposed for trying to overthrow the secular government and turn it into an Islamic state. His group is now listed as a Terrorist organization by Turkey, he has recently been indicted for a recent coup attempt and Turkey has requested extradition. Some say he is a CIA asset

This all goes to show how unregulated charter schools are and the lack of financial transparency
has led to many financial scandals. Its not an efficient use of government money


Expanding charters would do for parents' so-called "choices" what trickle-down economics did for the choices middle class and working class workers and families have--make them much worse despite all the neoliberal flag-waving and invocations of freedom and choice.

As an educational researcher who has been studying the myths and scandals behind our current policies for 15 years, there's some background data you need to know. Even the charters that are officially set up as "non-profits" often pay the administrators exorbitant sums (or they just take money in many cases) or family members or relatives set up other for profit companies that sell the charter school land or school buildings of educational materials or consulting services at highly-inflated prices, etc.

Some charters are excellent, but most are mediocre to lousy--especially in parts of the country where regulation is lax, as is the case here in Ohio. Many charters here in Cleveland are lousy, but the business sector (and the charters) have done so much clever PR spin that parents often falsely BELIEVE the charters are better, even though there's no empirical support for that notion. The idea that charters are by definition better is hilarious to anyone who actually knows about charters and whose graduates sometimes go and teach in them and report back.

Real conservatives fight to defend the things that actually made America great, including our natural resources and wonders, public sector institutions and programs such as the EPA, Medicare, Social Security, and public education:

    “When you wage war on the public schools, you're attacking the mortar that holds
      the community together. You're not a conservative, you're a vandal.”  - Garrison Keillor

And the idea that any parent--especially an overstretched parent living in poverty--has some simple way to know which school is better is simply ridiculous. I've been a researcher for decades, but the only way to know a school is really good is to spend substantial time there and have multiple pieces of data. And the idea that parents can look at test scores and know which school is better or worse is an unscientific absurdity. I sit at look at our state "report cards" and laugh at the idea that people in Columbus or DC think these tells us which schools are good and which aren't. They don't and they can't.

More generally, for educating the masses in a way that upholds the core values of our morality (love, caring, Golden Rule) and our democracy (freedom, equal opportunity, the general welfare) a system of fully public education is clearly superior to any privatized, quasi-privatized, voucherized, or charterized approach.

I suggest Lubienski & Lubienski's research-based book, The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools

The best model for us to imitate is Finland. They actually pay attention to the principles of democracy and human development, so they are able to achieve outstanding results while only starting formal education at age 7, having 15 minutes of recess after every 45-minute lesson/activity, very little homework, and a strong emphasis on the equal opportunity that is also one of the cornerstones of our democracy. Teaching is respected, teacher education programs are highly selective, and teachers are well paid and 100% unionized. Of course, strong unions and strong government spending played critical roles in building our middle class and the broad prosperity we enjoyed in the 1940s-1970s, and nations such as Finland have taken our model and improved on it.

I'm 56, and you've got what failed absolutely backwards. We've tried "market-based thinking" for 35 years and IT is the failed status quo: stagnant wages, outsourced jobs, higher poverty rates, struggling families, increasingly corrupt and dysfunctional governments (corporate money did that pal), corporate media that won't give us the straight scoop on the failures of trickle-down economics and globalization, and then there's accelerating environmental destruction. America was stronger and most people were freer when taxes were higher on the 1%, when government was doing a better job regulating corporations, and when unions were much stronger. Meanwhile, the people in democratic socialist countries are happier, healthier, live longer, have more ethical and better-functioning governments, and have more freedoms than we do because they have better job security, better retirement security, have far less crime, have more trustworthy governments, and are even ahead of us on keeping the living planet alive.

A strong system of fully public education is part of what made America great, and public education is of the best defenders of our freedoms. Increasing charterization, voucherization and other trickle-down schemes are a direct attack on our freedoms, equal opportunities, and the general welfare.


Plain and simply, strong public education isn't going to turn out the number of deluded Murkins that Trump and the GOP need to maintain their base.


Thanks. You're right on target and much more eloquent and informed than I.


Not only are districts throwing public money at religious schools, it is even worse. In some states private citizens are getting lucrative tax breaks for donating to religious schools and creating "scholarships" for students. Google it under "money laundering for private schools" or such similar and you will find out how widespread this is. All of it has got to go. Having DeVos even near the schools in madness, in part this is an example of why she is there and who she is. A very wealthy sociopath who has NO guilt in denying kids a decent public education. She must be removed, by any means possible. She has already stated she sees our country as having a "Christian" solution to education. She is a criminal, perfect person to keep this kind of money laundering going on.


CD should put out more stories on education. It brings out an educated crowd that make excellent and informed comments or posts. Thanks for the teachers. The real ones.