It took barely nine minutes Thursday to move an expansion of private school vouchers out of the Senate on a 25-6 vote.
It’s a scaled-down version of a school voucher bill ($2 million in vouchers rather than $4 million) defeated in the House, where this bill should meet at least a little more resistance.
Dismang emphasized that the bill had no accelerator of funding as the defeated bill did. But in response to a question from Sen Joyce Elliott, he said he couldn’t provide assurance that the program wouldn’t grow in the future.
Of course, it will grow. This camel gets its nose in the tent and the Walton money is in the background prepared to push in the whole hump.
The familiar mantra was spoken on the floor by Dismang: “This allows parents to make decisions in the best interests of children.”
The existing voucher program was designed for children with disabilities, though there’s no guarantee the private schools they choose are well-equipped to handle those needs. It has been expanded with the addition of foster children and military children.
Dismang’s vouchers would go for any reason to any family with less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or more than $50,000 a year for a family of four. That is higher than the state median income.
Dismang refuses to call this a voucher bill, preferring the nationally developed euphemism of “scholarship.” It’s just another voucher bill, as Sen. Linda Chesterfield noted.
If all parents deserve a “choice,” why should it be limited to 250 more families? See Florida and others where these “scholarship” voucher programs have grown exponentially. Expect to hear this at the next legislative session.
There’s no showing that vouchers produce better education (worse in Louisiana) and there’s nothing in the bill to do anything about substandard schools that receive the money.
Dismang has positioned this voucher bill as a tax credit bill to avoid the House Education Committee, which is tilted against voucher bills. It will go to Revenue and Taxation. Perhaps that will get the job done on a ground-breaking expansion of vouchers.
Want to flee a school with the wrong kind of people in it? Here’s your ticket. Parents ALWAYS say they are satisfied with voucher programs. What parent would ever admit they made a poor choice for their children? On the strength of surveys of such opinions (outcomes notwithstanding), the voucher program will grow.
Dismang’s misleading words to contrary, this is just another voucher bill. If approved, it will grow exponentially. With the enormous expansion of charter schools, including thousands in “virtual” schools, it will further hijack public education. It is the beginning of the end of the egalitarian, community-centric public school system.