Point 1. It was news to me that vouchers are largely going to the pockets of people who were putting their kids into private schools. If the Republicans were as keen on cutting taxes/government spending as they say they are they'd be looking at school vouchers as a well intentioned but terrible idea. But I rather suspect they actually like the idea of tax payer money going to their supporters.

Point 2. Speaking as a retired school psychologist and a father of a young man with a servere intellectual disability I can only say that if the private schools in American are anything like the ones in Australia the thought of them taking on kids with a disability (except for bright placid intellectually normal ones with physical issues) is a joke. They struggle with normal kids of low ability and think they are good at behavior management because they get rid of kids who are mildly behaviourally challenging.

Point 3. I'd love to find out if Governor Abbot is being cynical or if he really believes that state schools are pushing trans-genderism, beyong (horror!) tolerating trans kids. Trans kids are very rare and if anyone knows anything about them the idea definitely comes from within. The idea that teachers could somehow turn a cis kid into a trans one is....ridiculous. And by the way teachers are in the main scared of controversy and wouldn't take the risk either.

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Trans people are one of Abbott’s boogie men. He has to keep his base riled up about migrants, trans, gay, and drag queens. I hoping the vouchers his owners want with be a death nell to his regime, because rural Texas doesn’t have that many private schools. If he includes home schooling to this, it will be the death nell to public schools which is the ultimate goal.

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I think the term for Abbott on this is "paranoia."

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This passed in Iowa last year despite an overwhelming majority of citizens opposing it. It’s awful. In Iowa, we have 183 private schools, but 42 of our 99 counties don’t have any at all. Fully 84% of those private schools are religious schools. Also, over 60% of the vouchers went to kids that were already in private schools (aka, families that can already afford it). The idea that my tax dollars are supporting schools that can discriminate based on whatever they want to is nauseating.

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Most states have huge rural areas and the families in those areas do not have a choice about where to send their children. There are no options except the local public schools. School vouchers take money away from all public schools so those in rural areas are also affected. In MO many rural schools are down to 4-day weeks, have many teacher vacancies and low teach pay due to budget cuts. This is also affecting schools in urban areas. If you care about education you need to vote Republicans out of office.

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No need to say special needs. All Disabled are Disabled, all Deaf are Deaf. They have access needs and support needs. The truth is that all people have access needs and support needs. It’s just that the needs of Disabled and Deaf people are pathologized.

There is only one Deaf/Deafdisabled/Disabled charter school I know of, Metro Deaf School, right here in Saint Paul, Minnesota. That’s because Deaf people are the one demographic who are much better served by the ability to speak American Sign Language together and to interact thus. It is a well funded and supported school, very much the opposite of the norm of charter and private schools in general period. Because, as you accurately say, the private and/or charter school system is explicitly built to exclude students who are Disabled or Deaf, and have needs beyond and/or different from most students.

Every state used to have at least one state school for the Deaf. Those have been systematically starved and dismantled over the past several decades, under many misguided notions. Not every state. But enough, to leave gaping holes in what used to be fine access.

And in exchange for what? The 1982 Rowley Supreme Court decision means that ASL interpreters and indeed access to ASL is not mandated at all. It’s not even allowed to be the default. Schools can deny access to education at will, and decide for Deaf students and their families whether they can have ASL and/or interpretation in school at all. But mainstreaming is its own mess.

Just starve the system, indeed. And then wonder why it’s fraying.

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This reporting is personal to me on a few levels, all of which affirm my opposition to any funding outside public schools. Some parents want their children educated in ignorance, and others are not aware of the dangers their children face. This happened to me with fundamentalist Christian K-12 schooling. The parents who had been to college or were wealthy got their kids tutoring to make up for the terrible instruction in US History and science, for starters. I, as a first-generation college grad, was not so lucky with terrible ACT scores for math and science. Even unluckier, I would now consider myself to have been misogynistic, racist, and anti-Semitic to boot. If not for college and more importantly expanding my reading and interests, I might never have figured it out.

I was marinated and steeped in all the authoritarian philosophy supporting white Christian male dominance. There was no question when my teachers said we kids could do anything, they meant the boys. We were taught not to question authority, explicitly. Not our parents or teachers, and certainly not God or the pastors, or the principal. Our principal had, and used, a paddle.

My point is that children educated like this, now, are unprepared for what faces them. Our good-paying jobs are in multicultural factories and offices, filled with female professionals who are not going to put up with their coworkers’ bullshit. Absolutely zero public money should be used to support this.

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Very good essay.

I live in a weak school district. My two children (now grown) attended private school from grade 7-12. Every parent feels their children are “special” and my wife and I are no different. Both children were high achieving students (my son scored 800 on his math SAT). They are three years apart so we had one or both in private school for nine years (from 1997 to 2006). In those nine years we spent about $200,000 on tuition for them (with college to follow).

Now for the surprise; I was and still am totally opposed to school vouchers. In a perfect world there would be no private schools. You can be sure that if public schools were the only option for every parent the schools would be much better. More monies would be allocated to them. Additionally, having better motivated, higher achieving students improves the entire culture of schools.

One might ask why we sent our kids to private school. I have always been a supporter of public schools. I attended them and have never complained about school taxes. Public schools help create an educated community which benefits everyone. We felt that our public school (where average SAT scores were 450 in both verbal and math) wouldn’t provide for the needs of our children. So we arranged to pay a private school. Ethically, would it have been fair to ask the kids still in the public school to subsidize our children? I think not.

It seems to me that everyone in a community is required to pay their share for all public services (including police, firemen, etc.) If any parent feels the public school is insufficient that parent is free to pursue a private school. Just don’t expect everyone else to help you pay for it.

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My children, one gifted and one highly gifted, both went to public schools in special magnet programs in the 80s and 90s. . The attacks on these programs as "elitist" were fast and furious, even though they went out of their way to be sure minority students were recruited if they qualified, and both programs were highly diverse. But despite the attacks, both got a very good education. The one in the highly gifted program was able to do his senior year in community college courses--a public community college, needless to say.

The public schools CAN offer excellent education for high achieving students. But they have to be really careful not to create a reverse ghetto in terms of race and culture.

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I found the same thing that you describe in your public school. The school eliminated honors classes in the middle school and high school. When I asked why the response was “students like your kids don’t need the extra help.”

I’m all in favor of getting extra help for students who need it. And I understand that a school can feel overwhelmed trying to get the less gifted students up to grade level. But this approach essentially (if not intentionally) slows down the more gifted student. This is as unfair to the gifted student as denying extra help is to the poorer student.

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The "extra help" consists of paying the salary of a teacher who already is teaching other stuff. My own honors courses were taught by long time teachers.

I shudder to think of what your district pays out for discipline of students gone refractory through sheer boredom.

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Well said!

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I started Catholic grammar school in 1953. Then I went on to a Catholic High School. My education was top-drawer, but dad had to pay tuition. Nobody ever tried to "groom" me in Catholic school to ensure I would vote a certain way, or hate minorities and gays, or view government welfare as coddling the lazy like DeSantis, Abbott and other fascist governors are trying to do.

The goal back in the 50's was not to compete with public schools, but merely to allow us to socialize with classmates who shared the same religion. I got two college degrees from public universities.

My PhD was from Texas Christian University. Nobody on the faculty ever mentioned religion in the classroom at TCU unless you were in the divinity school, of course.

Today, public schools are viewed as competition for Christian Nationalist that can legally groom students to be good little fascists. But, they charge tuition - ergo the desire to have the state let them attend "voucher" grooming schools for free. Florida and Texas are both destroying their universities by outlawing liberal education. Faculty are leaving for other states that offer liberal educations.

Liberal education does not mean being groomed to be a Democrat. It means being exposed to diverse views and facts, and learning HOW to think - make sense of our confusing world. Christian nationalist "voucher schools" tell their students WHAT to think. If something does not make sense then it is a communist lie - like vaccines will kill you. Is that really the future we want for our kids?

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Thank you for including Arkansas in this excellent report.

Huckabee Sanders LEARNS Bill was one of her first moves in the state House to

undermine the public schools

here. Then her Voucher pay

out was another.

Welcome to the deep red South.

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Seems to me that one way to discourage this is to fund the vouchers only by special property tax levies. To add a carrot to the stick, give a credit on that to folks whose kids are in public school (or property owners who rent to families with kids in public schools). Everyone else pays the extra tax or, if they vote against the levy, no money for the vouchers.

Minor point. If I recall correctly the supreme court case you mention involved a remote part of Maine where there were NO public schools. In that context, the denying of vouchers to religious schools makes a certain sense as to religious discrimination. But I don't trust the Extremes to notice that distinction on the next case.

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I grew up in Iowa in the 80’s & 90’s. Iowa was considered to have one of the best states for public school education. Now it’s gone. Their voucher program is going to cost so much more than proposed it’s gonna crush the public school system.

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Many voters are probably convinced by the GOP to embrace the vouchers.

"I LOVE having school choice! Rather than to have my child INDOCTRINATED by the failing public school system to wanna change his SEX, I'd rather use my school voucher, (funded by my own tax dollars,) for tutoring, transportation, computers, summer education programs, educational therapy services ..."

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