Magazine article Church & State

Educational Lesson: Voters Really Do Not like School Vouchers

Magazine article Church & State

Educational Lesson: Voters Really Do Not like School Vouchers

Article excerpt

The big news about last month's elections focused on control of the House of Representatives. That is indeed important, but some other noteworthy developments occurred that shouldn't be overlooked.

One of them took place in Arizona, where a determined coalition of public school advocates beat back an effort to expand vouchers in that state. In an impressive victory, Save Our Schools Arizona blocked an expansion of vouchers decisively, 65 percent to 35 percent.

Legislators in Arizona had initially passed a voucher plan aimed at students with special needs. A study showed that the plan was rife with problems. Some parents who were already living in areas with high-performing public schools were using vouchers to enroll their children in private schools at taxpayer expense. The program was also plagued by lax oversight. Nevertheless, last year, lawmakers voted to extend it to any student in the state.

The program was a real threat to public education, and some residents saw it as the first step toward privatization of secondary education in the state. They decided they'd had enough, so they gathered signatures and put Proposition 305 on the ballot. And on election night, they won a clear victory.

The Arizona results mirror those from other states. Time and again, when people are given the opportunity to vote directly on vouchers at the ballot box, they reject them, usually by wide margins. …

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