Joe Blow: Didja hear this one? The government wants to give poor kids $4,000 to go to a private school. Heck, that sounds wunnerful!
Mr. Blister: Just try to find a good private school for $4,000 a year. Good luck.
Joe Blow: But my good buddies at Cato Institute tell me that "Education Department figures show that the average private elementary school tuition in America is less than $2,500. The average tuition for all private schools, elementary and secondary, is $3,116, or less than half of the cost per pupil in the average public school, $6,857." So there!
Mr. Blister: Your Cato buddies are hitting the sauce again. The Education Department also has figures that show that the "largest system of private schools in the United States is operated by the Roman Catholic Church and includes 8,351 schools in 1993-94, serving 2,516,000 students."
Joe Blow: You got a problem with Catholic schools?
Mr. Blister: Not at all. But I do got a problem with public funds being given to religious institutions. There's that Constitution thing. First amendment. You've heard of it? The Education Department revealed that "(m)ost parochial school principals reported that their schools most important education goal was religious development."
Joe Blow: But if these private religious schools do a better job than the public schools, maybe it's time we edited that there Constitution.
Mr. Blister: Well, that same pesky Education Department just released a study that showed that students attending public schools generally did as well as or better than comparable students in private schools.
Joe Blow: Is that so?
Mr. Blister: Yup.
Joe Blow: Well I'll be . . .
Mr. Blister: Kinda makes you wonder about why people would back something that is so wildly at odds with the facts. $4,000 would allow a poor family to send their kids to a religious school, where their children would be given a Christian education focused on religious development at tax-payer expense, including tax-payers who happen to be Jewish, Muslim, atheists, etc. There's no reason at all to suspect that the education these kids got at these religious schools would be any better than what they were getting before at a public school. Of course, we'd never know that because private schools are not accountable under NCLB. So the $4,000 invested in these kids would be more like a prayer and less like a public policy designed to close the achievement gap. But, given that these kids would be attending religious schools, I suppose praying for achievement is appropriate.
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Joe Blow Talks to Mr. Blister: Vouchers
Posted by Peter Campbell at 10:55 PM
Peter Campbell is an educator, academic technologist, and parent. He holds a BA from Princeton University and an MA from New York University. He has been involved directly or indirectly in education for more than 25 years. He currently works for Blackboard, Inc. as a Regional Sales Manager in the Collaborate division. Before joining Blackboard, Peter served as the Lead Instructional Designer and the Director of Academic Technology at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Immediately prior to his job at Montclair, Peter served as the Product Manager for an educational start-up (Learn Technologies Interactive). In this role, he oversaw the design and development of a K-12 learning management system, e-learn.com. His passion for education was forged back in 1987. He began teaching for The Princeton Review, then moved to Tokyo and taught English at a Japanese high school for two years. He later moved to New York City, where he worked as an adjunct in the speech department at Manhattan Community College. He went on to teach writing at the U of Missouri in 1995, and it was there that his interest in educational technology was born. Views expressed here are solely those of Peter.