(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Here on JPGB we’ve been tracking the progress of Dick Durbin’s lie that the DC voucher program didn’t show academic gains – which is all true except for the part where it says that the program didn’t show academic gains. (We’ve also had some fun passing along the AP’s reprot that Durbin tried to help Rod Blagojevich make a deal for Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.) Now it would appear that we’ve made our way back upstream to the source.
A little bird told me the NEA has mailed out the following letter to all U.S. Senators. Note the line I’ve highlighted.
June 11, 2009
On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our strong opposition to proposals reportedly under consideration in the Armed Services Committee to provide private school vouchers for military families.
Vouchers are not real education reform. Pulling children out of the public school system doesn’t solve problems – it ignores them. Real reform will put a qualified teacher in every classroom, keep their skills up to date with continuing education, and raise pay to attract and retain the best teachers.
Proponents of a military family voucher program have cited the District of Columbia voucher program as a model. However, the DC voucher pilot program, which is set to expire this year, has been a failure. In fact, over its five year span, the pilot program has yielded no evidence of positive impact on student achievement.
Vouchers are clearly not the right solution to ensure every student the highest quality education. Voucher schools are permitted to maintain their admissions standards and can reject any public school student they choose. They can reject students based on prior academic achievement and on the basis of gender. Students with special needs often cannot find a private school that can serve them. In contrast, public schools serve all students who come through their doors.
Providing vouchers for 750,000 students in military families stationed in the United States would be a huge expense. These resources would be much better spent on to ensure ALL children the highest quality education. The U.S. Department of Education has created the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) clearinghouse to help school districts, educators, parents, and other stakeholders choose programs that have been proven effective. A brief review of their database revealed dozens of programs that have been scientifically proven effective at improving student achievement in reading and math, at increasing the likelihood of students staying in school and completing their education, and at improving the language and achievement of English language learners. We have attached examples of these programs for your information.
Again, we urge your opposition to any proposals to create a private school voucher program for military families.
Director of Government Relations
Manager of Federal Advocacy
Of course, the whole letter is shot through with dishonesty – but it’s the sort of dishonesty that’s routine in politics. (E.g. The empirical evidence consistently shows that vouchers do in fact “solve problems,” not only by helping the students who use them but by improving public schools.)
The highlighted sentence, on the other hand, represents the kind of thing you normally can’t get away with. No matter how many Senators you buy.
Hey, here’s a question (and not just for Leo): If vouchers are really so bad, why do their opponents have to lie about them all the time?