Just Say No to Vouchers

What are vouchers? Vouchers are a form of privatization, i.e., turning over public tax dollars to private entities to educate kids. This is the standard definition – see, for example, the use of terms here or here. As we have stated repeatedly, we believe that the way to build and strengthen a world-class public school system is to make sure that public schools are adequately resourced. We believe that public tax dollars should be invested in public schools and not be diverted for vouchers to go into private schools. We think investment in our public schools is the best policy choice for our kids, our communities, and our schools.   But do vouchers work? No, vouchers just don’t work. “A wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say.” Research found in three separate studies of the three different voucher programs in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio that voucher students fared worse than their public school peers.   What’s going on in Tennessee? This year, Tennessee legislators have put all their voucher eggs in the Memphis pilot basket even though 13 of 17 Memphis legislators and the Shelby County Commission oppose vouchers. Williamson County Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson are co-sponsors of the current bill. It is unclear why Williamson County legislators get to override the preferences of those elected by the people of Memphis Rep. Larry Miller, a voucher opponent from Memphis, said during last year’s Finance Committee hearing on vouchers: “Everyone’s always saying they know what’s best for...

The Tea Party and Vouchers: Reunited

The local party officials of the GOP are partnering with two pro-privatization groups to offer free food and a “talk” led by Glen Casada (who has received more than $15K from pro-privatization groups) regarding vouchers and their other education privatization efforts in Tennessee. The local GOP event tonight is hosted by Americans for Prosperity and American Federation for Children—two national groups who spend huge sums of money to get pro-privatization candidates elected to local and state offices. Americans for Prosperity, of course, also dumped tens of thousands of dollars into the 2014 Williamson County School Board race and took credit for the victories of Cash, Burgos, Curlee, and Emerson. The AFP relationship with some board members (including Beth Burgos and Susan Curlee) has remained tight over the past two years. AFP TN Director of Communications director Tori Venable was (and may still be) in a now-secret Facebook group with Julie Mauck, Susan Curlee, and Beth Burgos, among others. James Amundsen, a current staffer for AFP, worked closely in 2014 with Franklin Alderman Bev Burger and others in their efforts against both Mike Looney and then-incumbent board member Eric Welch. These groups are unabashedly for vouchers and other forms of privatization of public schools. This event will also celebrate the privatization efforts of Milton Friedman, the father of the voucher movement. Friedman said: “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a market system.” He was clear that he wanted a “private, for-profit industry to develop” in service of a “radical reconstruction of the educational system.” So these special interest groups,...

Vouchers: The Real Religious Indoctrination Bill

The idea that teaching about world religions in seventh grade is a program of indoctrination would be funny if it weren’t a funded campaign of fear, wrapped in bigotry, inside of ignorance (hat tip: Winston Churchill). But let’s focus on something everyone agrees on: Taxpayer dollars should NOT be used for religious indoctrination, i.e., trying to push religious beliefs on students. We all agree on that, right? Apparently not, because that’s exactly what vouchers will do. The voucher bill would transfer public school funds to private schools, including religious schools. In other states, most of the schools receiving the vouchers are religious: In Indiana, all of the schools receiving vouchers are religious (2011). In the first year, there were 79 Christian schools and one Muslim school. 89% of voucher students in the 26-year-old Milwaukee program attend a religious school, and 27 of the schools are 100% voucher students. North Carolina’s top 12 voucher schools are religious schools – 10 Christian and 2 Muslim. Religious private schools account for 90% of voucher recipients even though only 66.4% of the state’s 715 private schools are religious institutions You want to keep taxpayer dollars out of the indoctrination business? The voucher bill has already been voted on by the full Senate and will be voted on by the full House on Monday, February 8, at 5 PM. Let your Williamson County elected officials know that you don’t want the voucher bill. roar.williamsonstrong.org You can also blind carbon copy email the full House. [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],...

On Saving Kids, Williamson County, and Voucher Myths

The voucher bill will be decided by a full vote of the House on Monday at 5 p.m. Pro-privatization groups have spent almost a million dollars on campaign contributions to elected officials and pro-privatization candidates over the last several years; they have spent at least that much in advocacy and independent expenditures. We don’t have millions of dollars (in fact we have none). We’re just public school parents who know how valuable our public schools are. Vouchers would transfer public school dollars to private schools, including religious schools. Our entire legislative delegation is FOR the voucher bill. Want to weigh in with your elected officials in the state legislature? Do it this week. https://roar.williamsonstrong.org/   Myths we’ve heard recently This bill will NEVER affect Williamson County.  This bill, the way it is written right this minute, would likely not affect WCS or FSSD (unless we had a school in the bottom 5%). Last year’s version DID have a section that could affect Williamson County; our legislators swore up and down it wasn’t in there. But here’s what we know and what the legislators know as well. Voucher programs expand. That’s what they do. Passing a small voucher program and then expanding it has been the political model all over the country. Some Tennessee legislators have already said that this program should be expanded. Let’s take a look at Arizona, one state among many that could tell this same story: “An Arizona House proposal would remove limits on the state’s school voucher program and allow every public school student to use state cash to attend a private school.   “The...

Williamson County Legislative Delegation on Vouchers (Plus Fact Checks)

Williamson Inc. held a Public Affairs Roundtable on Friday, 1/29. It was facilitated by Dave Crouch and Williamson Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen and attended by Senator Jack Johnson and Reps. Glen Casada and Charles Sargent. Rep. Jeremy Durham did not attend. We urge you to watch the video yourself!  The discussion on education starts at 17:18. Facilitator Dave Crouch asked about the voucher bill that just passed out of the House finance committee, is headed to the floor next week, and has already passed the Senate. Crouch noted that the bill had been opposed by “every school district in the state” and though it was targeted to “failing schools,” it could have a broader impact:   DAVE CROUCH (moderator): [I] understand that it is targeted toward failing school districts, primarily Memphis. And uh it had a clause in there that if there are any unused vouchers in those failing school district counties I guess you would say, the remainder may be awarded to students who reside in a district that contains at least one school in the bottom 5% of schools… so that would be a lot more than four metropolitan districts in the state. Is that not right? JACK JOHNSON: No. That’s not right. And I’m sorry I’m going to get on a bit of a soap box here. There is a lot of misinformation out there about this voucher bill. And there are some forces out there—some right here in Williamson County—that just have a philosophical opposition to vouchers in any situation. And they’re aggressively opposing the bill and either intentionally or unintentionally they’re spreading some false...

Sargent’s Committee Votes on Vouchers Today

This afternoon at 3:00, the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee chaired by Brentwood’s Rep. Charles Sargent will hear the bill to institute a voucher program that would allow taxpayer funds to go to private schools. The fiscal note would pull $221 million out of public schools over the first five years and $71 million per year after that. Oh, but that’s not all! Legislative leaders have already said they will want to expand the program (initially focused on districts with the lowest performing schools). This is what has happened in other states. Our local legislators have declared that this is all about helping kids in “failing” schools. But what’s the evidence that voucher-funded private schools do better? Milwaukee has had a voucher program for 25 years. Look at this chart and note that Milwaukee public schools have a higher percentage of both low-income students and special needs students than the voucher-funded private schools to which they are compared. Likewise, pro-privatization groups wanted to make New Orleans the model of school privatization. However, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that students attending a voucher-paid private school had lower math scores and lower performance in reading, science, and social studies. They also found these negative effects were most pronounced among younger children. See Tennessee Education Report’s recent article. So…unproven, risky, expensive. What’s conservative about this voucher bill?   See also Public Money for Private Schools? (Again.)     Williamson County residents, please contact Rep. Charles Sargent TODAY! 615-741-6808, [email protected] Email the entire Finance Committee TODAY! Phone numbers are also listed on TREE’s call to action. [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],...