Friday, August 16, 2013

Vouchers proven as the SCAM they are

Look, I already knew school vouchers were a cynical scam meant to defund public education and (like many things in Fitzwalkerstan) funnel taxpayer dollars to campaign contributors. But this week, we found out it's even more of a money shuffle than we thought, with the funds going into fewer and fewer hands, and the concept of "school choice" being shown to be a total lie.

The Department of Public Instruction broke down more than 2,000 of the applicants who wanted to go to 25 of these voucher schools, and it turns out that the vast majority of these kids aren't coming from public schools.
The top 25 schools had 2,069 eligible students apply to be in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. Of those students, 76 percent (1,566) did not attend a Wisconsin public school last year, and 24 percent (503) were from public schools. Of the 2,069 eligible students, 67 percent (1,393) attended a private school last year.

The Wisconsin Parental Choice Program is limited to 500 students for the 2013-14 school year. State law requires the department to conduct a random drawing of eligible student applications and allocate 10 seats to each of the 25 schools and then fill the remaining 250 seats randomly. The random selection of student applications will be conducted by computer next week.
Even worse, the voucher system passed by WisGOP and backed by Walker did not give precedence to students who were trying to move from public schools to private schools. So what this means is that it is likely a majority of families getting funds to send their kids to private schools were already sending their kids to private schools! Which makes the voucher payment nothing more than a WELFARE PAYMENT to those parents, and a TAXPAYER-FUNDED PAYOFF to the schools who have worked just fine without the government cheese.

And by the way, it is extremely likely that those funds will be going to churches and other religious organizations, as every one of the top 25 schools that students applied to are Christian-affiliated (and 20 of the 25 are Catholic). So my taxpayer dollars are now paying mostly Catholic schools to educate kids that they were going to educate anyway (which means the funds could conceivably be used elsewhere in the Church). That's a reassuring thought.

Oh yeah, these schools also aren't held to the same accountability standards as public schools. Yes, Sen. Luther Olsen and Rep. Steve Kestell want to have voucher schools graded along with all other types of schools, with the possibility of "restructuring," closing the school, or other punishments if the school falls short in 3 straight years. But this has obvious flaws, the first of which is that grading schools without having poverty as a major consideration is a failed premise to begin with. And as we saw in Indiana, what happens when a certain favored charter or voucher school is in danger of failing, do they cover it up and change the grades, like Tony Bennett and company did in Hoosierland? Fortunately, I can't see Tony Evers cheating like this, but imagine if GOP hack Tom Pridemore had somehow won? No way would they be judged fairly.

More realistically, does anyone think Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is going to make any effort to put vouchers on a fair playing field with public schools? Especially when the last 3 WisGOPs that had his Speaker position all work for the voucher lobby, and Vos became Speaker in no small part because of big donations and promotions by the voucher folks to get GOPs elected. (I'm not even going to mention Vos needing his 2nd annulment, as I'm sure THAT doesn't play in here :P) Like most Republicans in the 21st Century, the voucher boys are all about getting taxpayer funding without taxpayer accountability, and they sure as hell aren't going to give that status up unless they have to.

Finally, if you actually did believe that school vouchers weren't a scam and were really intended to give parents choices on where to send their kids to school, I got a few questions for you. Wouldn't public school parents be given the first priority to get a voucher to test out these places, since conceivably they're the ones who have fewer "choices" without vouchers? Wouldn't you demand voucher schools to have the same accountability tests and measures as public schools, if "choice" and "competition" are the main goals? And why in the hell would you give rich parents a tax break of up to $10,000 to pay for their kids' private school tuition, but offer no similar tax break for choosing to send their kids to public schools?

Because the answer to those questions is that Walker and WisGOP want to favor private sector schools over public ones, creating a two-tier school structure where the private schools and the parents of the kids who go to private school get all the advantages at the expense of public schools and public school parents.

The two-tier school system is important to keep in mind, as nearly 60 years ago, Brown v. Board of Education ended "separate but equal" schools after overwhelming evidence showed that the schools were NOT equal. And given what's being set up by the Wisconsin GOP and its welfare-ridden voucher system, separate but equal is being reinstated in Dairyland in a big way.


  1. Either money is fungible or it isn't. Taxpayers funded abortions via Planned Parenthood in *exactly* the same sense that Wisconsin is unconstitutionally paying priests' wages via vouchers.

    Which is it, WisGOP elected officials? Did you lie in your justification for cutting PP funding or did you break your oaths of office and need to be impeached?

  2. Geoff- We know this answer. The 21st Century GOP motto is "our rules don't apply to us and our campaign contributors."

    And you're right, there is no doubt this money will be used to pay for Church activities. We don't have any say in what those activities are, either.

    1. But I didn't say that this taxpayer money was going to be used for Church activities - just that the GOP wants to have its cake and eat it too.

      Have the cake (money is not fungible - vouchers are not unconstitutional and state funding of unrelated PP activities isn't used for abortions) or eat it (money is fungible - vouchers are constitutional and state funding of unrelated PP activities is used for abortions).

      Which is the case depends upon your view of money, but you can't escape the conclusion that WisGOP legislators are a bunch of liars in either case.