Vouchers Hit a Bump in the Road

Congress is trying to cobble together legislation to replace No Child Left Behind.  As with most thing politic, finding agreement between Republicans and Democrats is not easy.  Such was the case July 8th when Tennessee’s Senator Lamar Alexander pushed for school vouchers.

As reported by the Washington Post.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former governor and education secretary under President George H.W. Bush, proposed an amendment to the education bill that would allow low-income students to use federal tax dollars to pay private school tuition.

And Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) offered a lengthy rebuttal, arguing that Alexander’s idea would undermine public education.

The idea of using federal money for private school vouchers and other education alternatives has long floated around Republican policy circles, but the recent spurt in new voucher programs in states has encouraged GOP lawmakers in Congress.

Murray argued against Alexander’s proposal, saying that it would divert scarce dollars meant for the country’s poorest students to private schools.

What’s more, studies of voucher programs in Milwaukee and the District of Columbia have shown that they do not improve students’ academic achievements, she said. “Study after study has shown that vouchers do not pay off for students or taxpayers,” Murray said.

Simply stated,  voucher programs mean that public dollars are used to supplement private schools.  While some claim the Alabama Accountability Act is not a voucher program, they are using slight of hand to make their argument.  With AAA, funds that normally go to the state education trust fund are diverted to scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) to be used for private school scholarships.

It is a grown up version of “play like” where an Alabama voucher supporter says “play like you didn’t see that money getting sidetracked.”

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