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

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Vouchers Dead in Illinois: Cry Me a River

Corporate ed reformers got a major smackdown yesterday as a school voucher bomb fizzled in the Illinois House. What the sponsors call "choice" focused on offering parents who send their children to crumbling public schools was a hugely discounted voucher worth a measly $3,700. From the Chicago Tribune:
. . . . Joyce could muster only 48 of the 60 votes needed to pass a bill that would have allowed students to get vouchers worth about $3,700 to switch to private or parochial schools beginning in fall 2011.

. . . .

Fighting back tears during the lengthy debate, Rep. Suzanne Bassi, R-Palatine, called on fellow lawmakers to "search your souls" to support the measure because "we have failed these kids in the inner-city schools."

"I'm pleading with you," said Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, who represents an area with four public schools where students would have been eligible for vouchers. "I'm begging you. Help me help kids in my district."

Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, led the opposition with an impassioned speech calling for the measure's defeat. He railed against the current educational system, saying improvements need to be made in the home life of children and in the city school system, which oversees 10 of the worst schools in his own legislative district.

"Chicago Board (of Education), get busy," Turner said. "Do what you're supposed to do." . . . .

As Jonathan Kozol said in School: The Story of American Public Education,

They’re proposing a voucher of a couple thousand dollars which at best would allow a handful of poor children or children of color to go to a pedagogically marginal private school. The day that the conservative voucher advocates in America tell me that they would like to give every inner city black, Hispanic or poor white kid a $25,000 voucher to go to Exeter, I will become a Republican.

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