The Voucher Vultures are Circling
You might want to make some calls or send some emails this week before it’s too late.
Gov. Mary Fallin did a photo op at an elementary school for homeless children in Oklahoma City to make the case for education vouchers or Education Savings Accounts (ESA). The school is a non-profit that gets kids ready to go back into public schools. I’m sure the children appreciated the visit from the top-ranking government official in Oklahoma, but they would probably appreciate other things more. Their families might appreciate support for public education in the areas of smaller class sizes, more wrap-around services, healthcare (expanding Medicaid would be a good first step to help families in poverty) and social services professionals in schools with struggling populations, not to mention more pay/support for teachers. Why not improve conditions for everyone rather than hand out vouchers that divert public dollars (our tax) dollars to private schools that don’t have the public oversight that public schools have? And they shouldn’t, because they’re private schools. But should tax dollars be going to them? It would be nice if vouchers actually helped homeless children. A few parents might move their children to private schools when and if they can get them in, but for the most part, it will help children who are already in private schools by supplementing their tuition.
If you want a good argument against vouchers from an Oklahoma school administrator, go here.
And also this from a Sand Springs administrator.
You can also find the phone numbers and emails for representatives in that link.
While school funding is a dreary topic, there actually are things (other than diverting public funds through vouchers) that the Oklahoma Legislature could do. If you are interested in knowing what those steps are and what you can do, the non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute has some very clear things that you can take action on THIS WEEK.
From what they say, legislators listen to their constituents. They work for us. If you care that Oklahoma is having a hard time recruiting and retaining teachers; if you care that your child has a well-rounded, rich education in reading, mathematics, fine arts, sports, technology and science; if you care that your child is in a small class where teachers can provide individual attention; if you care that your child is in a safe, well-maintained building; if you care that your child’s classroom has good materials and enough books – let your representatives know. There’s strength in numbers — and this is the week to do it!