Friday, September 1, 2017

IL: DeVos Can't Stick To Script

Illinois has just joined the ranks of the education voucher states in the US after a protracted mess of shenanigans and skullduggery.

Mostly what the legislature and Governor Rauner did was use an artful combo of bribery and hostage-taking to leverage a big, fat pay day for voucher schools. If folks wanted to free up funding for schools (handy, now that the school year started), they would have to give up the voucher dollars. As protective cover, they were given a new funding system and a couple of pieces of gold for public schools.

The depressing news here is that Illinois once again shows that public schools cannot look to either party to defend public education. Democrats took the deal and voted for Voucher Christmas. Some folks called them out, but most of the press about the bill has stuck to the script-- this is an awesome win for public schools and don't pay any attention to that voucher program (which is, you know, not exactly really a voucher program). It's a compromise, a bipartisan happy day.

Except that one voucher fan didn't get the memo on how the bill was supposed to be properly spun-- Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos:

Real change and innovation in education will not come from Washington—it will come from states where parents and students demand more education options and have their voices heard. I commend Gov. Rauner and Superintendent Smith for their leadership in making Illinois the 18th state to adopt a tax credit scholarship program. By expanding choices for families and focusing funding on individual students, this program will help thousands of Illinois children succeed.

Oh, no, Secretary! You forgot to call this a compromise. You forgot to say that these "savings accounts" aren't really back door vouchers! You forgot to say what a great funding victory this was for public schools! You forgot to pretend that this bill helped ALL schools through its awesome compromisiness. You could have called it a victory on many sides... on many sides.

Part of the deal in Illinois was supposed to be that voucher fans (of all parties) would refrain from doing a victorious happy dance, that they would avoid saying out loud "We are one step closer to replacing public schools." But no-- there's DeVos, down in the end zone, doing her victory dance and spiking the ball and hollering, "In your FACE, public schools!!" Next time someone better make sure she gets the memo.

1 comment:

  1. Except the funding via the tax credit producing donation does not go to individual students, it can only go to a school. This means that wealthy parents can fund their own kids schools, that religious school districts will then be put in the position of shifting money from school to school, if they dare, to balance things out. "Yes, this is worse than a voucher. Wealthy people reduce their taxes by 75 cent for each dollar donated, can direct that their money only go to a specific private school, and can give up to $1,000,000 per person. The groups that actually give out the money can keep 5 percent of it, and decide who gets the money." Then there's this: "WBEZ shared a new study from community development organization IFF this week showing that 60% of IL school districts are underfunded with the reminder that the new school funding bill only provides $350 million of the $6 billion needed to adequately fund IL schools. ISBE found as part of the school funding bill work that 82% of IL schools are underfunded, even more than IFF reported. Either way, we know that we need yearly increases in education funding to make progress towards actually providing all schools with adequate resources."