Salon claims that the idea of school vouchers is the same as the idea of making sure that the children of the poor gain no education — but it is the idea that the children of the poor gain a better education than they currently get. Whether Salon is wildly misinformed or is presenting untruths as a result of political bias is the thing that needs to be determined.
For it really does present that untruth:
“Salon’s Kathryn Joyce, for instance, has been reporting on the growing movement in elite right-wing circles to destroy public education as we know it so that it can be replaced with right-wing propaganda and/or no education at all for lower-income Americans who can’t afford to pay for private services,” according to the piece.
This is so bad a mangling of the actual proposals that it must be deliberate. The actual comment is about “by giving vouchers to parents “ and that’s clearly entirely the opposite of trying to create a no-education system for poor Americans.
Instead of money going into the centralized bureaucracy to be distributed as they think best – obviously, largely on the central bureaucracy with a heavy load for the teachers’ unions – the idea is that money follows the student. Parents decide at which school, teaching what and how, they would prefer their child to be taught, and the money follows that decision. This isn’t killing education for poor children; it’s financing it.
It’s also close to the Swedish system. You know, that democratic socialist system (actually, it’s social democratic, but the difference escapes progressives) over in Europe? Any two qualified teachers can open a school, and the money – the full budget per student – is paid to the school depending on how many students they attract. And that’s the whole system.
The point of the system is that parents get to decide how their children are educated. Not the central bureaucracy, and not the teachers’ unions. This is, of course, why the progressives at Salon are so upset that the teachers’ unions and the education bureaucracy will lose influence if this idea spreads because the two are progressive power centers.
Salon ranks around 60 in the listings of law and government media sites for the U.S. It gains some 8.5 million visits a month from that position and is very definitely on the progressive side of the political divide.
There’s a certain flavor to this from Salon: “Schools are also a major threat to the anti-egalitarian politics of the right.”
That’s not what’s driving the progressives into paroxysms of rage here. Rather, it’s the same idea in reverse. They’ve spent a generation or two taking control of the public schools and their bureaucracies. Now along comes the voucher idea to undo all of that work. It’s losing control of the next generation of children that is creating the rage. Which is also, of course, why the voucher idea is spreading.
CommentsComments are turned off for this article.