school vouchers are here to stay

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A lot has fallen into place over the past year in order for vouchers to become the standard in our country. Sometimes it's been on the state level, but it's also been on the national level, and these changes have not always been seen as specifically for the promotion of vouchers in schools.

One recent change is in the Supreme Court, which has decided government employee unions can't force payment to the union. This is like Right to Work for government. Even if it does not specifically mention schools, teachers, or even states, the message is clear: unions are an option. If people don't join the unions, and the unions don't get the money, then unions won't work to defend public schools the way they have in the past. If you're a public school teacher and think this is a small issue, you're wrong. That said, I was dumped by my union after my state went to a system of voluntary membership. The union didn't even send a card when I was let go with no explanation, whereas the same union had fought to protect a female teacher who was having an intimate relationship with TWO underage students a couple years earlier. Anyhow, I'm no fan of teachers unions, but I know that putting a collective weight behind an idea helps, and any public school teacher who thinks their job is safe right now is very, very wrong.

Another change that will affect private schools but not vouchers specifically is the use of college savings accounts to pay for private school. It can be big in some states more than others because of tax incentives, but it gives parents another option to pay for private school that was not around last year.


Many states are trying to pass voucher bills. These are, of course, lamented by teachers unions, but Florida has chosen an imaginative way around these union arguments: bullying. The Florida bill that passed said the state would kick in for private school for the kids who have been bullied in public school. It's hard for anyone to argue that a kid who is being bullied should just deal with it, so the passing of the bill was easy, and it had the added benefit of making teachers look bad. In states where unions are still strong, I'd predict this kind of chipping away in the next few years. Students who score below a certain level. Students whose parents only make a certain amount. Students who have failed a grade. Students who want to have religion as part of their education. Etc.

I read an effective article recently that talked about how many parents of kids in private schools are not rich. It said these people just have made a choice to spend a lot of money in order to send their kids where the parents see as the best school. It's hard to argue against medium-income families giving of themselves for the benefit of their kids. Sure, there are still rich people who send their kids to elite schools, but if the general public is convinced it's not about welfare for the rich, then some kind of voucher school system isn't too far behind. I can attest that most private schools are NOT elitist. At least not the Lutheran ones I've been a part of. It's just an option, like Montessori or Waldorf or Language Immersion. When people start to see it that way, they'll probably lean towards a voucher system. Even if no real evidence exists that students are benefiting to a huge degree.

And it won't be long.