Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What would Uncle Milton think?

I'm late in discovering this story and haven't had time to read other blog posts about it, so sorry in advance. But i had to say something about the expansion of the voucher program in Ohio.

The governor has led the drive for an expansion of the voucher program to give a voucher to students in districts classified as being in Academic Watch and Academic Emergency. This is nonsensical, because you are making the consequence of an accountability system be transferring students to schools that are unaccountable.

However, and let this not be construed as a flagging of my opposition to vouchers, this particular program does have a couple of interesting twists:
  • Volunteer service option: The amount of each voucher is small, from $4,000 to $5,000 depending on the child's grade. Usually the argument goes that this will force low-income parents into sending their children to parochial schools, many of which have just as many problems as many public schools. Under this law, however, schools are required to offer parents the option of paying the difference between the voucher and tuition through volunteer service.
  • Assessment: Schools will be required to administer state achievement tests to voucher students.
Why the compromise? I think what is emerging is proof of something Eduwonk mentioned in this (excellent) post, that "Vouchers are the stalking horse for charters." Meaning, that it's the charter model that is making the most sense to the public and to legislators.

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