"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

School Choice or Schools Cheap?

If the school privatization mob could sink to a more morally bankrupt position, I don't know what it could be. For years conservatives who don't give a rat's patootie for the plight of the poor or the brown have disingenously argued that poor parents should be given a choice of good schools just like the parents who can afford private schools.

That kind of cynical abuse of social sentiment just got exposed once more in Florida, as legislators of both parties try to finagle a way to give corporations huge tax credits for money they funnel through non-profit charters that, then, hand over cheap vouchers to poor families, vouchers that actually represent a reduction from what the State now spends in the public schools for these same children.

It's not called vouchers anymore because the Florida Supreme Court ruled those unconstitutional. How about corporate tax credit scholarships? I am wondering if Florida taxpayers want to assure that the obscene profits by McGraw-Hill and Pearson go untaxed, profits that both companies have extracted from the blood, sweat, and tears of the state's children and teachers. And what kind of scholarships are being offered? The 20 to 30K needed to enroll in a good private school? No, no, we are talking about $3,750 for a cheap charter school with poorly paid teachers who have been certified through ABCTE. Yes, Jeb Bush made sure that ABCTE would have a big footprint in Florida's brave new world of corporate socialist schools.

Here is a clip from the Bradenton Herald:

. . . ."It's going to be really difficult for us to support any expansion in corporate vouchers in an environment where the Legislature and state are having trouble properly financing schools," said Mark Pudlow, a spokesman for the Florida Education Association.

State lawmakers already are poised to cut more than $300 million from education early this month, and more cuts could come by May. Gaetz, however, counters that vouchers could wind up saving the state money - a point echoed in a 2007 analysis done by the Collins Center for Public Policy. The argument is that it's cheaper to hand out a $3,750 private-school voucher than have the state pay $7,000 for each student in a public school.

Pudlow, however, said certain school expenses will continue no matter the size of a classes.

"The school is going to still be there, the lights will still be on and the buses will still roll," he said.

Corporations earn a credit on their stateincome-tax bills if they provide money to organizations that provide a voucher. Only children who qualify for reduced-price or free lunches are eligible for what are called corporate tax credit scholarships. . . .

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