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Charter schools and vouchers extend state control

by Otto Zequeira

George Carlin wrote that when the government says it is defending choice, you should beware that it is probably taking away your choices. Charter schools and vouchers are a bipartisan extension of state control over the minds of young people because they attack independent schools.

With charter schools and vouchers, government is attacking independent schools as it once did when free public schools were first created. According to The Twelve Year Jail Sentence, in London, England, for example, 97% of students already went to school before government began to intervene. The government first created public schools, then they offered the public schools at a reduced price, and then they offered the public schools for free. At each step, the independent, private schools everyone already used were killed. It's hard to compete with free.

The same thing is happening with charter schools across the country. Charters are killing independent private schools like the Archdiocese of Miami schools, according to people close to the system. Charters also decimated the Philadelphia Archdiocese schools, according to one of these school officials. Former Bush Sr. education official, Diane Ravitch, discusses the link between charters and the closing of independent schools in DEATH AND LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM. See below for that citation.

Charterization is also making independent schools more expensive for all as private choices are put out of business. Ironically, with the overall, regressive taxation system in this country, the poor and middle class are funding their own loss of academic and intellectual freedom.

The widely reviled Florida Senate Bill 6 this past Spring, and the new testing legislation this year both increased standardized testing for kids in charter schools as well, curtailing the options and intellects of charter students as well as those of the public schools, while continuing the attack on independent and religious education. Vouchers extend state control into private sector schooling through increased state regulation.

Recently I heard at an education convention that there are plans for charter colleges, which will kill what? Independent, private colleges.

There are alternatives to the push for charters, testing, and vouchers. We could decentralize the massive school systems we have now, or simply allow all public school students to go to schools they choose as long as they have space. Choice is important in learning, but choice does not mean corporatization.

References and Further Reading


"Catholic schools enrollment moves steadily downward." Bronston, Barri. Miami Times, January 19-25, 2011.

DEATH AND LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM, Diane Ravitch (Former Bush education official), p. 128

At the same national Catholic Education Association conference in 1991, the
sociologist Father Andrew Greeley predicted that the first voucher would arrive
on the day that the last Catholic school closed. He knew that Catholic schools,
despite their great success in educating working-class and poor children, were
struggling to survive. He knew that help was not on the way. What he did not
know-and what I did not realize-was that the new charter school movement would
undercut Catholic schooling. Charter schools offered an alternative not only to
regular public schools, but to Catholic schools, which were burdened by rising
costs. As more and more states opened charter schools, more and more Catholic
schools closed their doors. Between 1990 and 2008, some 1,300 Catholic schools
that had once enrolled 300,000 children were shuttered." Many of them would have
shut down anyway because of changing demographics and the diminished number of
low-paid religious teachers to staff them, but competition with free charter
schools was very likely a contributing factor.