Years back Ralph Reed, unhappy with the removal of prayer from public schools, vowed to take America back. Their strategy was to seek elected positions on school boards. Remember the “Christian Coalition”, the “Moral Majority.”
Today it’s “Family Focus.” This group is meeting in Texas this weekend to rally behind a conservative Republican other than Mitt Romney. The slew of Republican candidates catering to them this year include: Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, and Gingrich. Politicians from George W. Bush to Barack Obama have noticed that the religious right has been successful in influencing the direction our nation takes.
This is not an attempt to find fault, place blame or condemn anyone. These are just historical facts.
Education vouchers use public monies designated by legislative action to enable students who otherwise could not attend private schools to participate in a private school education. Much of this money ends up in religious education. In Indiana public school vouchers are in their first year. Public Schools are bracing for an outflow of students as Catholic schools are deciding how many new teachers they need to hire. In Philadelphia vouchers are being promoted as a way to save the parochial schools. In Milwaukee, the birthplace of vouchers, 1000 students use vouchers to attend St. Anthony’s making the church run school dependent on public financing. Having the church be dependent on government financing would be a fascinating discussion, but not for this particular blog.
The business community also seems to favor vouchers. Long embellished by noted economist Milton Friedman, they believe in the business approach to improving education. But the same business approach that brought us AIG and Enron does not work with children. In Milwaukee countless private schools emerged as a result of the voucher system, one even being run by a previously convicted pedophile. Only now is Milwaukee considering legislative action to perform background checks on private school administrators and teachers. Several had to be closed for financial reasons. Henry Tyler, Executive Administrator of the L.E.A.D.E.R. school was recently indicted on mail fraud. Cleveland Lee Sr., former chief financial officer of Harambee Community School, a voucher school, was convicted in state court of embezzling $642,000 from school coffers. Rosella Tucker, founder and director of the now closed Milwaukee’s New Hope Institute of Science and Technology charter school, was convicted in federal court of embezzling $300,000 in public money.
Additionally the ACLU has recently reported that schools benefitting from vouchers are discriminating against students with special needs
This blog hopefully demonstrated that the voucher system is ripe with fraud. To address and prevent this fraud more government regulation is required: New bureaucracies are needed and government spending will increase.
Next week I’ll address whether or not vouchers academically benefit students.