Choice Advocates Not Only Want More Money for Vouchers, They Want It with No Strings Attached
Ever since the Betsy DeVos was nominated as Secretary of Education, school choice advocates have been salivating over the possibility that the privatization of education would enter a new expansive era. Last week, the USA Today interviewed some of the nation's leading advocates of school choice and vouchers who are raising new concerns. Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Richard Hess of the American Enterprise Institute warn there is a downside to this expansion: the federal government will begin to regulate private schools more. Hess remarked "when you get a Democratic administration, an Elizabeth Warren administration, and they decide that eligible schools ... need to have anti-bullying programs and other accommodations? We will very quickly wind up and wonder, ‘What were we thinking?’” Petrilli said many private schools would forgo the funding if they have to abide by these types of regulations. “They just won’t participate,” he said. “And then what’s the point? You don’t have a program.”
Is this a sign of an evolving school voucher position that not only should the public fund private education, it should fund it with no strings attached?
That choice advocates could take such a position shows just how far the ground has shifted in a few short months. This position is incredible on any number of levels.
First, it assumes an entitlement to public funding for private choice. The problem is that there is no such entitlement. If the federal or state government is giving money to private schools or facilitating private choice, it goes without saying that it has the right to regulate that money. In fact, conditioning federal money is the real reason for giving out federal money to begin with. The federal government knows that its ability to regulate state and private actors is relatively small. Thus, it achieves its policy objectives by exchanging money for conditions. We do this in everything from health care to education.
Second, state and federal government has funded public education for the past century and a half because it is Education Law Prof Blog: