Are Righties Giving Up on School “Choice”?

Greg Anrig writes at Washington Monthly that conservatives are abandoning the cause of school vouchers. Eighteen years have gone by since Milwaukee began its voucher program, and many other programs have been in effect for nearly that long. And finally some school voucher cheerleaders are admitting the programs neither helped low-achieving students nor improved public schools through “competition.”

Even more critical for the Right, school vouchers simply didn’t pan out as an effective political weapon to use against “liberals.” In particular, lots of those middle-class, small-town white folks the Right thinks they own did not want some gubmint program messing with the local public schools. In many of those towns the public schools (and the schools’ varsity sports programs) are the hub of the community. If you’re from a small middle-America town, as I am, you probably know what I’m talking about. Interesting that right-wing political leaders didn’t figure that out themselves.

Anrig also points out that whenever there’s been a statewide referendum on school vouchers, the voucher programs lost. And they usually lost big.

Now if we can just kneecap No Child Left Behind, maybe we can start focusing on real solutions to the problem of poor public schools.

On the other hand, Steve Benen says Florida Republicans didn’t get the memo and are still trying to sneak in a voucher system via deceptive constitutional amendment initiatives.

3 thoughts on “Are Righties Giving Up on School “Choice”?

  1. Also, the rightie push that they’ve typically used against liberals is the “elitist” claim. You know, the kind of people who drink lattes and send their kids to private schools. So using that name-calling tactic at the same time they’re telling people they want to be able to send their kids to private schools… well, it’s a mixed message at best.

  2. The nice thing about Florida’s Constitutional amendment initiatives is that with only a few thousand signatures you can bypass the legislature and get your cause on a ballot to amend the State Constitution. At worst, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of success. And given the ignorance that abounds in Florida, I’d say the odds are greater than that. In 2000 we amended the Constituion to build a Bullet Train from Orlando to Tampa…without any concept of costs or practicailty to accomplish the job. We had to scrap that amendment when reality set in, and people realized it was a pie in the sky idea that would cost way more than we could afford.

  3. While I abhor the idea that someone could do my job (public school teacher) as well as I without training, I do like some of the innovation that school choice has allowed to happen that I do not think would happen otherwise. Charter schools, while there are some awful ones, have allowed for some excellent opportunities for kids beyond simply a basic school.

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