With plenty of support in powerful, national positions, the voucher wolves are circling their prey: public schools.
HR610 was introduced last month by Iowa Republican Congressman, Steve King. Essentially, it abolishes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which has guided and governed federal education policy since 1965. It cuts the Department of Education off at the knees, drastically limiting their power and oversight. It also directs the ED (I think they mean the Federal Education Department, NOT a certain male medical condition by the same name) to grant funding ONLY to states who offer voucher programs, which would allow parents to use taxpayer funds for private schools or homeschools.
Also, the bill lifts nutritional requirements that made fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk products more available to students. Basically, it says we can go back to serving crap lunches again. But that’s fodder for another blog post entirely, I think.
I won’t say I’ve read the bill entirely because it can’t be good for my blood pressure. But I’m sure it leaves room for lots of questions like:
- Who will monitor the dispense and use of these funds to be certain they are used for educational purposes?
- What defines educational purposes? Does a family trip to Europe qualify?
- Will private schools accepting taxpayer money in the form of a voucher be required to accommodate students with special needs, including those on IEP’s and 504 plans?
- What happens to the funding if/when students are removed from private schools and sent back to their districted public school?
- Will federal funding for other programs, like Title I and school nutrition, be withheld from states who refuse to offer voucher programs?
It seems contradictory to basically abolish the Education Department at the federal level in the name of state and local control while simultaneously tying federal funding to a federal mandate. I’m starting to think the ability to speak out of both sides of your mouth is a general prerequisite for becoming a legislator these days.
Why? Why funnel funding away from public schools instead of seeking to fund programs to help our most vulnerable students? Everybody with any sense knows that a voucher won’t make private school accessible or even affordable for our most disadvantaged students. I just can’t buy that this is about rescuing poor kids, specifically because I don’t recall the last time the GOP was truly concerned with the plight of the poor, particularly as it pertained to government funding. These are the people who begrudge every subsidy program for the poor: SNAP (food stamps), WIC, Medicaid…
So what’s the real motive? Establish a for-profit school system that lines the pockets of investors with tax-payer funds and simultaneously re-segregates our schools? President Trump’s Secretary of Education pick, Bet$y DeVo$ certainly supports that theory, as does her confirmation by the Senate despite an unprecedented public outcry to her candidacy.
I used to think that was far-fetched conspiracy theory. I’m not so sure anymore.
I don’t even know why I bother writing anymore. Maybe because I want there to be some kind of warning on record when the sky actually falls.