Sunday, August 27, 2006

Vouchers Are Flat-Out Un-American

Dr. Leininger, school-voucher gadfly, wrote a commentary in the August 26th edition of the San Antonio Express News that promotes the “holiness” of school vouchers. I don't want to dignify his guest editorial with a link. It's all part of a scam, along with laws like "No Child Left Behind", to put our schools in the hands of private, for-profit corporations or religious institutions. Taking public tax dollars from public schools and giving those dollars to religious schools is his agenda. But he doesn’t tell you that churches that are already tax-exempt sponsor these religious schools; he wants you to forget that. The bottom line is that it is unethical to give tax dollars to institutions that are already tax-exempt.

Let’s take a look at these private schools. I worked as a business manager for a church/school combination and here are some interesting facts:

1. The salaries of the teachers in the private school were two-thirds of the public school teacher salary.
2. The nurse, (an LVN, not an RN) in the private school was also a classroom teacher and a religious sister. She was responsible for traffic control, also.
3. There was not one blade of grass for the children to play on. There was a small gym and an asphalt parking lot with basket goals supporting the physical education program.
4. There was no transportation support for the students. Parents drove the kids to school and picked them up every afternoon.
5. There was no specialized counseling for the kids. By specialized, I mean speech therapy, reading recovery or math tutoring, or behavioral counseling.
6. There were no alternative schools. Troubled kids who broke the rules were simply dismissed back into the same school system that people like Dr. Leininger want to “rescue” them from.
7. There was, and is, no requirement for the teachers to be certified. Some were, some weren’t.
8. And there was no after-school program for these families. Working parents had to figure out a way to transport their kids to an after-school program someplace else – and figure out a way to pay premium prices, too.

I, as an involved, informed parent, would never send my child to a second-rate private school to get away from a second-rate public school. As a taxpayer and a parent, I would move heaven and earth to make that public school first-rate again, for my children and my neighbors’ children. That’s what Americans do.

Last spring Dr. Leininger admitted in public his own children were home-schooled. I am glad he has that choice, but how can he possibly understand the needs of public schools when he does not participate in the process? My daughter and son are graduates of public schools. My daughter graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Oklahoma in just over three years; and is completing a Master’s degree from UTSA leading her to a LPC license. Our son will be departing for Harvard in six days. Of course, they both worked hard. And as parents, we have been very involved. We supported teachers and administrators when our kids were not performing well; and we held those same teachers’ and administrators’ feet to the fire when they were not performing well. But the real base of our kids’ success has been the public school systems that educated them, a commitment each community we have lived in made to all children, not just ours. Why should our communities stop doing this just because some home-schoolers don’t like public schools?

(Cross-posted at TXKaos and BOR)