Home > Uncategorized > YES! There IS a National Network Promoting Vouchers Under the Banner of “School Choice”… and if Your State is Governed by the GOP WATCH OUT!

YES! There IS a National Network Promoting Vouchers Under the Banner of “School Choice”… and if Your State is Governed by the GOP WATCH OUT!

February 1, 2021

Peter Greene, a retired teacher who writes the Curmudgucation blog and frequently writes article for Forbes offers a comprehensive analysis of the national push to undercut public schools in a post he wrote last week. He opens the post with a concise description of Education Savings Accounts (or ESAs), the preferred method of introducing vouchers: 

In an ESA/Tax Credit Scholarship program, rich benefactors give money to a “scholarship” organization, which in turn hands the money over to criterion-meeting parents who then hand it over to a private edu-vendor. Meanwhile, the state reimburses the benefactor in the form of tax credits. Ed disruptors generally prefer that you not call these “vouchers,” and they have half a point, since school vouchers have generally been used strictly as tuition to a private school. ESAs, on the other hand, are meant to be more versatile, allowing parents to buy any sort of educational service from a variety of vendors. Usually these programs are capped, because remember–the amount of money that goes into tax credit scholarship programs is the same amount of money that is cut from state budget revenues.

He then describes many ancillary benefits of ESAs: lower taxes on the wealthy; cuts to public schools thereby undercutting their effectiveness in “the marketplace”;  opportunities for contractors to earn money fast without requiring the opening of an entire school; and, best of all, “…a nice clear path for state funding of private religious schools“. And as Mr. Greene notes with a bit of snark: ” And if gutting public schools also weakens those nasty teachers unions, that would be a bonus, too.”

Peter Greene then offers a menu of ESA efforts in ten states across the nation, concluding with a good description of HB 20, my home state of New Hampshire’s entry into the ESA sweepstakes, which I am reprinting in its entirety: 

HB 20 would establish the Richard “Dick” Hinch education freedom account programs. Richard Hinch was the staunchly conservative speaker of the house who died of covid on January 1, 2021.
And, yes, here we go again. This time they’re called Education Freedom Accounts. Tax credit scholarships. Used for any number of education-flavored stuff. There is a legislative oversight committee, but that appears to be about doing checks on how well the program is working and not on how the money is actually being spent.
This one is unusual in that it does not specify which students are eligible nor offer any caps on how much the tax credit program can take (that’s important, remember, because the size of the tax credit cap is the size of the hole it’s going to blow in your state budget). 
The notion that a “freedom” scholarship designed to improve education that supports democracy would be named for a lawmaker who refused to wear a mask and died as a consequence is somehow a good metaphor for the whole idea of ESAs. We don’t want to help our fellow citizens by making a small personal sacrifice (i.e. paying a bit more in taxes) and so we spread the disease of ignorance across the state. 
Peter Greene is a blogger who researched State legislatures and found ten who have launched bills introducing ESAs so far. He, like me, believes more are on the horizon. If your state is controlled by the GOP, and the chances are it is, be on the lookout for ESAs…. They are Betsy DeVos’ legacy. 

%d bloggers like this: