Saturday, December 3, 2016

Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part One (What Happened In Cleveland?) | Blue Cereal Education

Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part One (What Happened In Cleveland?) | Blue Cereal Education:

Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part One (What Happened In Cleveland?)

Angry Elephant

The Oklahoma GOP has for some time nowheld unchecked control of both the State Legislature and the Governor’s chair. Voters have handed them the keys, a 12-pack of Keystone, and encouraged them to have their way with the state. You’ve no doubt noticed the resulting prosperity trickling down all around you.
Each legislative season in recent years has seen a variety of proposals for some form of school vouchers, most recently called “Educational Savings Accounts” – a strange term for something which isn’t in an account and was never intended to be saved. Then again, neither clarity nor accuracy are real priorities of our current leadership. These are the same folks who believe “freedom of religion” means giving them the power to crush the infidel under their giant statue of Old Testament law, and who threatened to defund advanced history courses if we didn’t stop teaching about stuff that happened in the past. 
Bunnies or SomethingNow that voters have made it clear how they feel about public education and the so-called “teacher caucus” which received so much attention this past election cycle, one has to assume the day of the voucher has arrived. We probably can’t stop it, but we can at least try to educate ourselves about it. 
This is tedious stuff, folks. I’m sorry – I try to keep things festive here (at least when I’m not working myself towards a stroke during my almost daily fits of outrage and bewilderment), but I’m not sure that’s happening with this one. 
Still, I’ll do my best. I guess I could throw in some bunnies or something. 
There are two major issues with voucher programs. The first is whether or not they’re constitutional. That discussion has so far focused on a single question: Do vouchers violate the Establishment Clause by funneling public funds towards religious institutions? The short answer is no, they don’t – at least not in the cases addressed by the courts to date.
I’m not certain that should be the only question about their constitutionality, but I’m also just a humble classroom teacher with a blog, so what do I know?
The second issue is whether they’re a good idea. Unfortunately, there’s some disagreement about what this would even mean. I’m going to go with “are they good for kids?”
School VoucherActually, this being Oklahoma, I should clarify further. “Are vouchers an effective way to provide a better education for a greater variety of students in a fiscally realistic way?” That’s how they’re promoted ‘round these parts, but I’m not at all convinced that’s the actual goal. (See earlier disclaimer about the humble guy with a blog.) 
The definitive Supreme Court case regarding “parent choice” and voucher programs is Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002). There have been others, but this seems to be the biggie. We’ll start by laying out the basics of this case, explain what the Let's Talk About Vouchers, Part One (What Happened In Cleveland?) | Blue Cereal Education:

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