Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Tax Credit: Another Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Tax Credit: Another Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Article excerpt

Are we serious about improving the public schools? Those who recognize that the public schools have propelled this nation to greatness ought to be asking that question. They should also be wondering why some groups prefer to chip away at the public schools - substituting, wherever possible, the very privatization the public schools were originally designed to replace.

Attacking the public schools became fashionable with the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983. Intended to shock by implying that the condition of the public schools was so grave as to place the nation in crisis, that report was accepted as truth by most political figures and media pundits, who began routinely to allude to "the sorry state of the public schools."

Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup polls showed that members of the public at large never bought into this view, at least where the schools in their own communities were concerned. But the flood of negative articles, statements, and reports that came after A Nation at Risk shook public confidence in the schools of the nation as a whole.

And school critics took advantage of that situation by proposing a voucher system that would make public money available to parents for use in any school setting, public or private. The vague justification for vouchers seemed to be that competition for students would force ineffective public schools to improve or to close their doors.

The idea of vouchers is easy to discredit. There is no solid evidence that voucher plans have a salutary impact on student achievement or on school effectiveness. For a rundown of other problems with voucher plans, I refer readers to the editorial in the January 1998 Kappan. …

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