Washington, D.C., is home to the nation’s only federally funded private school voucher program. And it’s a mess.
It seems American’s taxpayers are on their way to spending $1 billion annually on vouchers and other so-called “school choice” programs. And just what, exactly, are those taxpayers getting for their money? Certainly not a better education for their children.
Americans United recently compiled an extensive report on all the problems with vouchers and offered a mountain of evidence to show that they just don’t work (you can read that report here).
Louisiana’s voucher program is in some real trouble thanks to a federal lawsuit alleging that the scheme hinders federally mandated desegregation in many school districts, but before answering to the U.S. Department of Justice, the state will have to deal with a 20-year-old who advocates for sound science education.
For years, anti-public school interest groups that favor privatization schemes have smacked their lips and salivated as they’ve contemplated the demise of public education.
But a funny thing happened: The people who actually rely on public education – America’s parents – aren’t buying it.
Supporters of private school “choice” – by which they mean their right to choose to pass the bill for private religious education to the taxpayer – believe they are on a roll. To some extent, they’re right.
In March, Indiana’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s voucher plan doesn’t violate a provision in the Indiana Constitution that bars tax aid to religion. In the wake of that ruling, legislators promptly approved an expansion of the program.
By all accounts, Carla Hale was a dedicated and popular teacher who loved her job.
Yet when she showed up for work a few weeks ago, Hale was summoned into an administrator’s office and subjected to a grilling. Not long after that, she was summarily fired from her position at a Clintonville, Ohio, high school.
Yesterday Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam abruptly pulled a private school voucher bill after some legislators refused to give him assurances that they would not try to alter the bill in ways Haslam does not support.
This is a good thing. Vouchers are a bad idea that distract from meaningful education reform.
But other voucher proposals are still pending in the legislature, so the issue is not dead in Tennessee.
The end of the year is a time for lists. You’re probably seeing a lot of them – “25 Best Books of 2012,” “10 Overlooked Movies,” “What’s Hot and What’s Not” or whatever.
Along those lines, here’s a list of the Top Ten Church-State Stories from 2012 (listed in no particular order):