Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part Four (The Story So Far) | Blue Cereal Education

Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part Four (The Story So Far) | Blue Cereal Education:

Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part Four (The Story So Far)

Meet Betsy DeVos

With President-Elect Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as Executioner of Public Education, talk of vouchers and their variations are once again filling the crispy winter air. If you’re not already following and reading the #OklaEd Trinity, you should begin by seeing what OKEducation TruthsFourth Generation Teacher, and A View From The Edge have been saying on the subject. 
Actually, Miller (A View From The Edge) has been on a bit of a roll on this topic lately. I may add unnecessary sentences just so I can embed additional links without them seeming forced. 
How did I do?
After School Satan ClubAs to yours truly, I’m working my way through Supreme Court cases related to “separation of church and state” as it impacts public education. Most of these involved prayer or religious instruction, although I’d hoped to get into some of the more interesting stuff like the Amish pulling their kids out of school after 8th grade or “After School Satan Clubs.” 
Yes, really. It’s fascinating stuff. 
As part of that, I became absorbed by Zelmer v. Simmons-Harris (2002) - a case which seemed to come up repeatedly when researching vouchers. The Court declared an Ohio program which included vouchers did NOT violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, making lots of #edreform groups and big money types very happy. 
Here’s the basic reasoning that allows a voucher program potentially benefiting religious institutions to nonetheless remain constitutional:  
First, the goal is secular. Sectarian schools may benefit, or more kids go to religious schools as a result, but promoting quality education for all kids is a valid government function and religiously neutral in and of itself. 
One Nation Under God
Second, the vouchers can’t be designed to favor religious schools or reward parents for choosing them. Even with more “choice,” public options should remain less burdensome than private alternatives. 
Third, it’s the parents making the choice – not the government. This is critical. The vouchers (tangible or not) go from the state to the parent, who then makes the decision where or how to utilize them. 
In legal terms, this is comparable to a government employee receiving a paycheck and choosing to tithe or donate to a sectarian cause. That’s why voucher supporters are so devout in their rhetoric about money “belonging to parents.” That framing is critical to the constitutionality of the system. 
There are problems with this blurring of public and private funds, and it slights the foundational “social contract” which allows civilization to exist. But those aren’t Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part Four (The Story So Far) | Blue Cereal Education:


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