Monday, November 18, 2013

D.C. School Vouchers Lack Oversight

by Edd Doerr

On Nov 16 the Wash Post reported that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the D.C. school voucher program,  "the only federally funded program that gives tax dollars to poor children to attend private schools, has so many faulty internal systems and missing policies that it can't manage the program." Uncle Sam has poured $152 million of taxpayers money into the program so that about 5000 kids can attend private schools in D.C. As the Post reported a year ago, the 52 private schools approved for the voucher program "are subject to few quality controls and offer widely disparate academic experiences", that hundreds of students use their voucher dollars to attend schools that are unaccredited or are in unconventional settings, such as a family-run K-12 school operating out of a storefront, a Nation of Islam [sic!] school based in a converted Deanwood residence and a school built around the philosophy of a Bulgarian psychotherapist." The GAO cited one, the Recta Porta International Christian Day School, as consisting of 100% voucher students. Most of the private schools using the tax-funded vouchers are religion based.

Here is the comment I posted in the Post on line  ---

"Some reminders are in order --- 1.The voucher plan was imposed on DC by Bush and a GOP Congress over the objections of elected DC officials; 2. DC voters rejected a tax-code voucher plan at the polls in 1981 by 89% to 11%; 3. In 27 statewide referendum elections from coast to coast between 1966 and 2012 vouchers or their variants were voted down by an average popular margin of two to one (See for details); 4. The 2013 Gallup education poll found that 70% of Americans oppose vouchers; 5. By forcing all taxpayers to support the diversion of public funds to religious private schools, the religious freedom of all taxpayers is violated; 6. It is past time for the DC voucher plan to be phased out. This latest scandal should nail that down."

I should have added that vouchers are just one of the parts of the ultraconservative  movement to undermine public schools, sabotage teacher organizations, fragment our school population along religious, ideological and other lines, and shrink the public sector of our country so that it can be "drowned in a bathtub".

Edd Doerr (

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