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The Voucher Threat
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CONTENTS

Special Voucher Report -- Main Page

Free-Market Education

Seed Money for Conservatives

Distorting the Civil Rights Legacy

Vouchers: Special Ed Students Need Not Apply

The Conservative Connection

Privatizers' Trojan Horse

Tuition Tax Credits: Vouchers in Disguise

Voucher Decision Opens Pandora's Box

Vouchers: Turning Back the Clock

Vouchers Schools Cash In
(PDF version)

Payment "Surcharge" Gives $28 Million Extra to Voucher Schools

Supreme Court Debates Vouchers

The Voucher Threat

High Court to Decide if Cleveland Voucher Program Violates the Separation of Church and State

Church / State Separation Vital to Democracy

Vouchers and the False Promise of Academic Achievement

School Vouchers: A Threat to the Rights of Women and Gays

False Choices: Vouchers, Public Schools, and Our Children's Future
(PDF version)

Who's Bankrolling Vouchers?

Vouchers, Accoutability, and Money

With God On Their Side...

Teaching Religious Intolerance

Vouchers:Church / State Complexities

A Visit to a Religious Elementary School

Five Years and Counting: A Closer Look at the Cleveland Voucher Program

Report Looks at Public and Private Schools

Vouchers and Public Accountability

The Hollow Promise of School Vouchers

The Market is Not the Answer

Lessons of Chile's Voucher Reform

The GI Bill Doesn't Vouch for Vouchers

Selling Out Our Schools: Vouchers, Markets, and the Future of Public Education

Notable Quotes on Vouchers

Links to other important sites on vouchers.

By Rethinking Schools

It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the debate over vouchers. Not since the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown decision in 1954 outlawing "separate but equal schools" has there been a controversy of such social and educational impact. Further, should the High Court uphold the use of public tax dollars for tuition at private religious schools, the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state will be severly undermined.

Supporters of vouchers have successfully used the rhetoric of parental choice and equal opportunity to obscure the real issues. But at its most fundamental level, the voucher movement poses five threats:

Many people have not always appreciated the threat from vouchers, and for understandable reasons. Who can disagree that public schools, particularly in urban areas, fail too many students? Further, the true powers behind the voucher movement - the leaders of the Religious Right and the Republican Party, the titans of corporate America such as John Walton of Wal-Mart, and the free market ideologues of right-wing think tanks - have been adept at selling the myth that vouchers are merely an attempt to provide low-income kids, especially African Americans, the same chance as affluent whites to attend private schools.

THE TRUE GOAL: UNIVERSAL VOUCHERS

Nothing could be further from the truth. The true goal is the privatization of public education via a universal voucher program available in every district, open to every student, and encompassing every private, for-profit, or religious school that can find a place to hang a shingle.

Vouchers for low-income families in beleaguered urban districts are merely a tactic. As voucher advocate Daniel McGroarty wrote in a recent strategy paper for the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, "means-tested vouchers may prove a viable beachhead" - a way "to win and hold new ground in the long march to universal school choice."

We do not criticize parents who turn to vouchers in an attempt to do what is best for their child. And we recognize that there are many talented and committed teachers in private schools. But we have little sympathy for policy-makers who abandon public education and who argue that vouchers and privatization are the answer to our country's educational shortcomings.

Advocates of equity and social justice must keep a sharp focus on reforming public schools and demanding that they fulfill their responsibility to educate all children. There is no doubt that public schools must do a much better job of giving students the skills they need to understand, maneuver in, and improve society. However, we must not be tricked into thinking that the only alternative is a system of private schools and for-profit endeavors.

Public schools are essential to reaching our potential as a more democratic America. The voucher movement betrays that potential. Its goal is the dismantling of public education.

Vol. 13#1, Fall 1998, Upated January 2002.