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The Market is Not The Answer
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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.

An Interview With Jonathon Kozol

Q: The very word "public" has a negative connotation these days. How does one counter that negative image in a way that one can defend public schools but not defend the status quo?

We've got to be blunt about the problems in a public system and be harsh critics of those problems. We don't want to be in the position of knee-jerk defenders of the public schools against the bad guys.

But we have to be careful not to succumb to this nonsense that a public system is inherently flawed and that therefore we have to turn to the market place for solutions. I've never in my entire life seen any evidence that the competitive free market, unrestricted, without a strong counterpoise within the public sector, will ever dispense decent medical care, sanitation, transportation, or education to the people. It's as simple as that.

I think it's time for us to begin to look back at some of our roots as Americans. It's absolutely crucial to claim the high moral ground on this issue and make it clear that the right-wing voucher advocates are subverting a strong American tradition. In this respect, we are the defenders of American history.

Let me state it differently. The complaints about the apparent malfunction of the public system are linked, in my belief, to the peculiar problems of impoverished, often virtually colonized, urban school systems. I mean "colonized" in the sense that very little power actually exists within the system, least of all the most important power which is finance, for which they're dependent on outside forces. And those outside forces are the people who set tax rates, the state government, the federal government, and the people who shape economic policy in America. I don't think the problems in urban public schools are inherently those of public education. I see hundreds of fine suburban school systems all around the country where nobody ever raises any question about the dangers of monopoly, because these are well-funded, reasonably attractive school systems.

Monopoly Not the Problem

I think it's important to recognize that this issue of monopoly never came up until people realized the incredible problems of our segregated, impoverished, colonized inner city systems, and needed to find a scapegoat other than segregation and colonization. The issue to me is not that these are public institutions. The issue is that these city schools are basically powerless. The superintendent is usually the viceroy representing other interests to which the superintendent has to be deferential, usually at great emotional cost.

My own faith leads me to defend the genuinely ethical purposes of public education as a terrific American tradition, and to point to what it's done at its best - not simply for the very rich, but for the average American citizen. We need to place the voucher advocates, the enemies of public schools, where they belong: in the position of those who are subverting something decent in America.

Jonathan Kozol is the author of Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace and other books on children.

Click Here for the complete Table of Contents for "Selling Our Our Schools."