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Vouchers & Charter Schools

Question: What do you think of vouchers and charter schools? Are you for or against them?

Answer: I can best answer your question with a quote from the glossary in Brave New Schools and the corresponding footnotes. Those who have my book can find these at the end of the footnote section in the appendix. The "strings" attached to vouchers apply all the more to charter schools, which also release the state from many laws that protect parents:

vouchers:  Tuition credits used by parents to pay for their child's education in a private school of their choice. The catch: any school accepting these vouchers must conform to national goals and standards. "A simple fact of political life is that public regulation follows money.... Private schools that operate with public money will be subject to public regulations...." "Changes, big changes, are needed," wrote Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers. " may be that we can't get the big changes we need without choice."

In March, 1984, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that private schools are subject to government regulations even if they receive no direct federal funds. The Court ruled six to three that a private school may be held accountable for federal rules because it enrolls students who receive tuition money from the government. Even though the checks are payable to individual students, not the school, the Court said any scholarships, loans, or grants to students "constitute federal financial assistance to that entity." The opinion, written by Justice Buron R.White, found that the language of the law "contains no hint that Congress perceived a substantive difference between direct institutional assistance and aid received by a school through its student."

On March 22, 1988, P.L. 100-259 became the law of the land.  "The measure would extend the reach of four civil right measures that were limited by a 1984 U.S. Supreme court ruling, Grove City College v. Bell. The ruling said that only the 'program or activity' of an entity receiving federal funds, not the entire institution, was covered by anti-discrimination laws. The legislation would reverse the ruling and make it clear that the entire institution must not discriminate if any component receives federal aid." (Congressional Quarterly Weekly, p. 774)  Cited by Virginia Birt Baker, "Educational 'Choice'" Free World Research Report, March 1993.

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