Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Light Moment in Senate Ed Committee...and Some UNlight Reading on Vouchers

There were some funny moments yesterday in the Senate Education Committee, when my former Senator, John Sparks introduced an "Education Savings Account" bill to the Committee. Clark Jolley was all over that, like a duck on a Junebug...didn't the Senator think using that phrase would confuse citizens, with those other bills titled the same? Doyathink?? With a straight face, Sparks explained that HIS was a bill that allowed parents to deposit their own investments into a tax-sheltered account, to use on any education expenses. The bluster continued...I loved every minute of it. I was not aware that ALEC and its minions had copyrighted the term, "Education Savings Account!" And how dare someone use the term correctly, to describe an account that a family saved their own money in, to be used for education expenses.

Inadvertently, the foes of the real education savings account bill, and the supporters of the ALEC one, presented two strong arguments to Sparks' bill that can easily be applied to the faux education savings account...the one parents don't have to invest a penny in, the one parents just take OUR money for their goals.

1. will low-income and middle-income parent know about this fund? How can they take advantage of the savings account? How will they be able to utilize it? Turn that question toward the ALEC ESAs -- how WILL working poor and middle class be able to utilize ESAs, with tuitions much higher than the ESAs, with other expenses not covered? How, indeed.

2. Now, wait. You're adding a whole new layer of bureaucracy here, with all the administration! Indeed. And the ALEC ESA bills do the same...5% of the withdrawal goes straight to the OSDE, who will have to compile a list of 'approved' vendors, and oversee all the withdrawals. There's a provision that will allow OSDE to use more of the ESA funds if their costs increase.

I hope House Democrats will use these arguments against HB2949 when it comes up on the House agenda...our sources say it can be any time this week.

So, in case you think vouchers will magically cure achievement woes, if you think the research shows vouchers are a sound investment of education funds, I offer you a few links to articles, to research, to blogs, to editorials. I also include some links to supportive research. A word about my methodology...I tried to include stories from the past three years...tried to keep things pretty current.

At the moment, I'm reading a book that has examined and replicated some of the research, and I'll report back.

For your reading're welcome.

News stories and summaries of research

Evidence mounts -- vouchers in LA not working

“Colorado Voucher Schools Discriminated on Religious Grounds. State Supreme Court Says Not on the Government’s Dime.”

“Louisiana school vouchers cripple academic achievement, national report says”

Politifact investigated: “No evidence that choice students outperform public school students” Mostly True

“Economist Studies School Choice Programs and Private School Revenue”

Blogs and opinion pieces

Pro Voucher articles

Research & Commentary: School Vouchers Are a Cost-Saver for Taxpayers”

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