I was always a big advocate for vouchers for education. Boy, was I wrong. What convinced me I was wrong? The news about President Obama and GM CEO Rick Wagoner.
Rick Wagoner was the CEO of GM and was just forced to resign by…Barack Obama in a move that nearly everyone believes was simply “political theater” to appease a bailout-weary public.
Obama can now point to a villain of the bailout and say he forced him out. Never mind, that Wagoner is no villain and his biggest mistake seems to be taking money from the government bailout.
So this is exactly why I’m thinking that vouchers might be a bad idea. Once the government starts funding even indirectly) they can then use the amount as leverage to get private schools to do what they want. In short, money means regulation.
I fear the vouchers could lead to mass secularization of Catholic schools across the country. First, it could start with forcing non-discriminatory policies on hiring, then it would be removing crucifixes from the classroom, then it would be balancing Catholicism with other points of view…and so on until the schools were secularized beyond recognition.
The worst in government would attack what’s best in our culture. Every time the government didn’t get its way, they would threaten to remove funding and many of the schools would relent.
And if some principal stands up to them, they simply make the money contigent on the school getting rid of that principal.
I worry greatly about the fate of our Catholic schools but am becoming ever more fearful of secularization.
March 30, 2009 at 7:07 pm
I believe many homeschoolers would share your opinion and even as it applies to parents teaching their children at home.
Some parents have been tempted by the “free” books, computer, etc. that are offered when you enroll in charter school type programs for kids studying at home… but the level of control the program requires is amazing.
As for my family, we’ll keep on paying for our own Catholic homeschool curriculum and try to keep our heads down and escape the notice of any do-gooder-type governmental agencies.
I’ve thought Hillsdale College is a good example of a college thriving without any governmental “aid” or interference. Check out Imprimus, their free publication.
March 30, 2009 at 7:22 pm
In a conversation about the ND Scandal, a dem (pray for the poor dear) pointed to their accepting federal funding as a reason that the whole matter should be a non-issue.
Apparently, schools receiving federal assistance that wish to maintain a pro-life position are being view as compromising that position for money.
March 30, 2009 at 8:10 pm
Make vouchers available to all, regardless of whether you go to private school or public.
The money then follows the students rather than the institution. Students could chose between good public schools, and private schools.
Doesn’t eliminate government meddling, but certainly reduces its.
March 30, 2009 at 8:13 pm
This has always been the problem with Vouchers – forcing compliance with the state. It is inevitable, imho.
A better idea is simply tax credits or at least tax deductions for tuition.
March 30, 2009 at 8:13 pm
JB is write, some sort of money to the parents per kid under 18, the money follows the student.
Another idea in the current voucher framework could be that for religious schools, their funding would be tied to their adherance to their principles, hence if the “Catholic” education and the Public education were almost the same, no need in paying for the overlap. This would actually force many Catholic schools to be more serious about their faith.
March 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm
Ding Ding Ding,
Yes, internal vouchers are also a good idea. Archdiocese or Diocese provides money to the parents instead of the school.
There are some mixed up Catholic schools out there that parents do not want to use, but are still better than public alternative. They are kept afloat by centralized (diosocean) grants.
If the grants went to the parents/students instead of the bureaucracy, it would work better.
March 30, 2009 at 9:03 pm
This is the primary reason I oppose vouchers. Instead, there should be an education tax credit.
March 30, 2009 at 9:20 pm
March 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm
Like Notre Dame?
Look, folks, as a public-school teacher (boooooooooo! hissssssss!) I often feel like a pal of Guy Fawkes. But why don’t you, as citizens, regain control of your schools? Is democracy not do-able? Did you vote in your last school-board election? Did you vote in your last local, state, and federal elections?
Or are you just like the geezers down at the DP cafe’, complaining about everything but not doing anything about it?
As for me, I’m teaching values and true English literature IN SPITE of the weird bureaucracy with which you have burdened me.
March 30, 2009 at 9:48 pm
A lot of us do get involved, and try to make a difference at the voting booth and elsewhere. But when the crucial decisions are made by bureaucrats who answer to no one (most state Departments of Education), it’s like shoveling manure against the wind…
March 31, 2009 at 1:04 am
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March 31, 2009 at 1:06 am
Yup, as a homeschool mom of a kindergarten-aged child, I have dealt with the “temptation” of the gorgeous freebies of charter schoo education – especially from my DH, who is not exactly pro-homeschool. But what you said is exactly why I am opposed to enrolling my kids in charter schools, and in any kind of vouchers…
March 31, 2009 at 3:47 am
The problem of government wanting to gain any level of control is the main reason I have always opposed vouchers. The other reason is that, despite what parents of kids already in Catholic schools think, it will not help them, but only those students in failing public schools. Catholic schools largely succeed because of the faith community behind them. Students and their families’ who are not part of the faith community do not have the same stake, and often view the school as a “product” to be purchased. These attitudes are detrimental to the Catholic school mission and identity.
March 31, 2009 at 11:53 am
I’ve met folks who are being helped by the parish to send their kids to the parochial school. The parish just required some hours of service from them to help defray the cost.
March 31, 2009 at 12:31 pm
I hate to tell you this, but the secularization of Catholic schools started a long time ago, and now it is led by the student bodies. No Catholic textbooks, no regular Mass, religion class twice a week if you’re lucky, sex-ed in fourth grade, non-Catholic faculty…I could go on and on.
March 31, 2009 at 1:06 pm
Instead of vouchers, how about a tuition reimbursement check?
March 31, 2009 at 4:19 pm
Ditto – many home schoolers are in tune with the idea that govt funding = govt control. No thanks, we’ll pay our own way.
March 31, 2009 at 4:34 pm
Interesting comment from Anonymous at 10:47.
I had not considered the idea that vouchers would bring an influx of lesser quality students and families into the parochial schools. (Can I say it without sounding elitist or racist?) I suspect many of the people who can afford private school tuition actually like that their schools are not attainable to the lower classes.
That’s not what a Catholic school should be, of course – exclusive and upscale. I don’t care if my kids have rich and poor friends alike, but I would prefer that their friends come from intact families who are involved in the educational process. Is it not a fact that poorer parents are generally less involved than rich parents, and that the overall quality of the school would be brought down? Then where would the rich families go to escape the lower class that they had been paying to avoid?
(Not to put words into Anonymous’ mouth, just following my own train of thought here.)
December 9, 2009 at 2:19 am
we would not need a voucher program if we stopped paying millions into teacher unions and instead used that money to actually better the public school system…but i guess that is just too idealist of a thought to be practical