by Edd Doerr
On August 12 Wikipedia "modified" its 16-page entry on school vouchers (see "vouchers") to reflect a hardline Republican/chericalist pro-voucher, pro-diversion-of-public-funds-to-religious-and-other-private-schools stance. To say that the entry is an Orwellian "selective manipulation of history" would be a gross understatement. It is a piece of sleazy political propaganda that would have made Josef Goebbels proud.
The entry makes no mention of these very clear facts: That the overwhelming majority of private schools that benefit from voucher schemes are pervasively sectarian religious institutions; That opinion polls for the last 40 years have consistently registered opposition to vouchers; That in 27 statewide referendum elections from coast to coast vouchers or their analogs/variants have been rejected by many millions of voters by an average 2 to 1 margin; That serious studies of the voucher systems in Wisconsin and Ohio have shown that voucher aided religious schools do a worse job than the public schools despite their advantage of being able to push out the students they do not want. The entry does not mention that no voucher plan has ever been approved by voters and that the only voucher plans in existence were passed by legislatures fearful of voter reaction. The entry fails to mention that Florida's attempt to amend its constitution to authorize vouchers was defeated by the voters in November 2012 by a landslide margin.
The entry weirdly distorts facts. It mentions Chile's voucher plan but does not reveal that it was imposed on the country by the brutal Pinochet military dictatorship. It distorts the truth when it describes Ireland's tax support of Catholic schools as a voucher system; it is not. It distorts the truth when it discusses the school finance system in the Netherlands, carefully overlooking the fact that direct tax support of Catholic and Dutch Reformed schools was the result of a historic coalition of religious political parties that worked for years to undermine religiously neutral public schools. It distorts the situation in Sweden by ignoring that the country is overwhelmingly secular.
The literature opposing vouchers is extensive. A good summary of why vouchers are bad for education is my monograph "The Great School Voucher Fraud" at arlinc.org.