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The Nation: Vouchers: They're Baaaaaack!

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-06-11 10:21 AM
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The Nation: Vouchers: They're Baaaaaack!

Vouchers: They're Baaaaaack!

Peter Schrag
June 1, 2011 |

For most of the half-century since economist Milton Friedman first advanced the idea of school vouchers, its been the ultimate weapon in our educational debates, always ticking just under the surface, never quite going off. But after last Novembers Republican statehouse victories, the right, sometimes abetted by Democrats and liberals, has brought back vouchers and school privatization with a vengeance.

In combination with new state laws sharply limiting the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public sector unions, mandating test-based teacher evaluations and expanding charter school programs, the voucher movement poses a serious challenge to the common school itself.

Early in May, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed what is probably the broadest voucher law ever enacted in this country. A few days later Oklahoma approved tax credits for those who contribute to a privately funded private school opportunity scholarship program. In New Jersey, on May 13, a voucher bill was approved by a Senate committee with bipartisan support. In Washington, DC, the voucher program, which was killed by the Democratic majorities in the last Congress, is all but certain to be restored. In Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, famous for his attack on union collective bargaining rights, is pushing hard to broaden Milwaukees voucher program to other cities and many more children.

Altogether, according to the Foundation for Educational Choice, a pro-voucher organization that lists Friedman as its patriarch, more than fifty-two bills have emerged this year, some passed, some still pending, in thirty-six statesamong them Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvaniaproviding funding for vouchers, tax credits or other tax-funded benefits for private education. No year in recent memory, said foundation president Robert Enlow, has provided better opportunities for the cause. Milton Friedmans vision for school choice is becoming a reality across the country. ...........(more)

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