Why School Choice Funded Through Vouchers, Tax Breaks or Stipends is Not the Answer


Hypothetical Situation: You need a new car. Your old car is broken down, barely runs, and is dangerous. So, the dealer who sold you the car in the first place comes to you and says, “Hey, we know you aren’t satisfied with your current car. So, we are going to give you a choice of any car on our lot for free.” You’re excited as you walk out onto the dealer lot.

Your excitement fades as you look around you. All the cars on the lot are identical to yours except for minor differences like color. They are the same year, same model, same make. But, you decide that free is free so you take test drives of every car offered. Your “new” care is subsidized after all!

As you drive each car, you realize that all the cars on the lot have major problems that are either the same or similar to the problems with your current car. You have a choice that is a choice between terrible options. That choice won’t make your situation any different. You’ve been grossly misled. And did the dealer tell you that HE would decide where and how fast you’ll drive?

How does this relate to school choice?

Let’s take a look at school choice in 2022 and how it has made a resurgence in our country.

There’s little doubt that the pandemic of 2020 created an earthquake in public education. When schools were closed and students started virtual instruction at home, parents had a window into what was happening in their child’s classroom and much of it was not good. Parents challenged what schools were teaching their children and demanding more say in district and school curriculums. When school and district officials resisted giving parents the right to control or even see what the children were taught, parents sought alternatives.

While private schools seemed the best option, parents questioned why their tax dollars should support public schools. This was especially important to middle class parents who couldn’t afford private school tuitions and still pay everyday bills. They felt trapped.

Even those who considered homeschooling were doubtful that they could have one parent stay home and educate their children while supporting their families. The assumption was that homeschooling was as expensive as sending their child to private school. And again, families were still supporting public schools with their taxes.

Lawmakers across the country picked up on the frustration of parents with the public schools and started to promote school choice in their states.

One of the problems with the school choice movement in the United States is that there are so many ways to define it. School choice can be everything from picking which public school in your district that you want your child to attend to funding private school or homeschool programs.

Just the FAQs—School Choice – The Center for Education Reform (edreform.com)

There are nine options listed in the article. However, it’s interesting that homeschooling is not listed as an option, although “micro schools” and “learning pods” closely resemble homeschooling. The difference is that the above are still considered schools while homeschooling is defined as something totally different. It appears that government still wants to give preference to groups of children being taught in a school format, just smaller. Why? It usually boils down to control.

When we examine the initiatives passed in many states regarding school choice it’s clear to see that legislatures are not really addressing the core issues with education in the U.S. or trying to reform it. Like the car dealer at the beginning of this blog, they are presenting parents with options that are just more of the same poorly delivered educational model provided in a different and sometimes smaller venue. Again, homeschooling is very seldom, if ever, presented as an option.

Even if homeschooling is part of the option like in The Right to Learn bill presented by Jeff Ghrist in Maryland (Caroline, R) which would have given parents scholarships to move their children from a failing public school to a suitable alternative which could have included homeschooling, the bills don’t make it to a vote.

School Choice Legislation in 2022 (reason.org)

What states passed school choice policies in 2022? | State Policy Network (spn.org)

A rational person would ask themselves why homeschooling is excluded and why there is no actual educational reform being offered in our country. There are several reasons.

  1. The myth of the “good school.” While the public school system as it currently exists has only been around for a little over 100 years, most people assume that the model of large groups of children being taught the same content in the same building by trained teachers is the best delivery system for what our children need. It allows “experts” to decide what kids need to know and how they need to learn it. We’ve been told that before this model, children were uneducated and ignorant and that the poor whites, blacks and women were left out. As the former Superintendent of the Talbot County Public Schools Kelly Griffith put it, “Schools in America were designed by white men for white men.” The truth is that schooling in America was created by families and communities to teach children to read the Bible and to complete farming and economic transactions. Blacks and women had schools as early as the 1700’s. Free “public” education was clearly established in the 1800’s. However, education didn’t move to the current factory model until the 1900’s when children were viewed as “products” and standardized tests were created as quality control of that product. The unfortunate truth is that as government created larger schools, education became group oriented and somewhat toxic to individual learning. And actual learning declined. From 1967 through the present, student achievement in the public schools has declined steadily or, in “good” years, stagnated. So, while members of the public may believe the myth of the “good school” they have been almost nonexistent for years. the recent slide to CRT, SEL, and departure from content has accelerated the fall into nationwide, institutional rot.
  2. Teachers Unions – In previous blogs we have exposed the hundred-million-dollar industry of politically partisan unions whose main concerns are power and making money. They long ago abandoned the facade that they care anything about teachers, education, or children. All one needs to do is visit their web pages to see their priorities: Our Issues | NEA, What Kids and Communities Need | American Federation of Teachers (aft.org) While they sprinkle in comments about children and what’s best for children, most of their issues are political issues that have no bearing on student learning or achievement, but mainly on political clout and indoctrination of their members. The unions hate the mere thought of “school choice” and transparency. They promote the message that choice would ruin the government schools. It’s somewhat like complaining that relief efforts after a hurricane would ruin the homes and cities that have been flattened by winds and torn apart by flood waters. However, if “school choice” can be tamed down to just moving money from different public entities and still tied to public control, unions can probably live with it. That is why those who get school choice will see their chosen schools suddenly inundated with state mandated rules and programs. And the unions will make sure teachers in these “choice” venues will be good, card holding, union members. But homeschooling will never accomplish the Unions’ goals.
  3. Government, despite all the talk about rights, freedom, and choice, only gives lip service to those ideas, especially when it comes to education. Democrat or Republican, both sides can’t seem to fathom that parents have the right, the obligation, to determine what and how their children will be taught. Remember that it was the Bush Administration that created the disastrous testing of ” No Child Left Behind” and the Obama Administration which implemented the horrifying “Race to the Top” initiative which included restorative justice and quota systems that have brought our education system to its knees. In fact, it is easier to choose to kill your unborn child or get damaging hormone treatments to change its gender than it is to gain control over his/her schooling. So, when they create school choice, it comes with strings and price tags regarding curriculum, medical mandates, and other government intrusions.

The bottom line is that the clarion call to school choice is not really what it is purported to be. With that in mind, what should parents do?

The first step in achieving real school choice is to know what you are dealing with in your state. For example, here is a site that shows what choices there are in Maryland.

Maryland School Choice Roadmap – National School Choice Week

Once you know what is available, do your homework. For example,in some counties in Maryland there is a blended virtual program sponsored by the Eastern Shore of Maryland Consortium. Sounds great, right? It could be except that it is only available for grades 6-12. Not only that, but participants are still enrolled as public-school students in their local school. There is a long list of restrictions and rules as stated in this handbook:

And, in case you were wondering, the courses/curriculum offered are the same as in the public school. While the format might be better, the content and values taught will not be.

What about a voucher for a private school? When my children were in private school, I would have loved a voucher system. As a middle-class family, private school tuition was a strain. My husband and I carefully screened the school to find a school with great academics and no social clutter.

However, as evidenced by the articles and videos below, now many private schools no longer care about the wishes of the parents:

Diversity Admin: ‘BIPOC Students’ Must be Protected from ‘White Gaze’ (breitbart.com)

NYC Assistant Principal Becomes Second School Official to Reveal Discriminatory Hiring Practices, Child Indoctrination Strategy … If Candidates Answer ‘Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Question’ Incorrectly ‘They Are Just an Automatic Not Hire’ | Project Veritas

Imagine now that government money is given to parents to fund placement in private school. Whenever government money is given, government intrusion will be right behind it. Your private school will have all the woke bells and whistles and you will have people running it like the people in the videos above. There will be the same destructive programs and mandates our government schools deliver.

So, even though you may pay tens of thousands of dollars to find your child in a good private school, your child will still be indoctrinated. Remember, those unions who want to protect children? They hate that the truth has been uncovered:

American Federation of Teachers Union warns members about Project Veritas’ Secret Curriculum Series in letter accusing Veritas of “trying to paint” public schools as “places of indoctrination.”

Dear AFT Leader,

Once again, the conservative activist group Project Veritas is targeting public education with out-of-context and deceptively edited videos.

The group is trying to churn up the culture wars in schools, announcing that they have videos about public education’s “secret” curriculum. They want to smear teachers and school staff, trying to paint them as nefarious and public schools as places of indoctrination.

In its first video of this series, a Project Veritas operative secretly recorded an assistant principal while going on dates with him. Using dating apps to find targets is the new preferred tactic of Project is the new preferred tactic of Project Veritas and its founder James O’Keefe, as was detailed in a recent lawsuit: “James O’Keefe instructed those doing the hiring that he wanted young, attractive female journalists to be hired to go on undercover dates-coming to headquarters dressed provocatively. O’Keefe openly referred to these employees as “PYTs” (pretty young things).”

In its second video, Project Veritas posts snippets of a conversation with a staffer at a private school in New York. We understand from its boasting that more videos may be forthcoming. A few years ago, Project Veritas hired someone to infiltrate AFT Michigan. That operative misrepresented herself in order to secure an internship and access to the union. We fought back and are still in litigation over this conduct.

Fortunately, major media outlets understand Project Veritas’ reputation. It has been banned from many platforms, including Twitter. So far, these videos are not gaining traction. We’re going to keep monitoring.

At this point there’s nothing for you to do, except remain watchful. But if you or a member encounter someone who could be secretly recording you, be careful. Keep in mind that this is O’Keefe’s new tactic, and remind yourself and your members to be aware. Trust but verify is my rule.

If you start to see a lot of people sharing Project Veritas videos or you get questions about it from local press, please flag them for us. Our team will help you with this. Finally, have a wonderful Labor Day.

In unity,

Randi Weingarten

AFT President”

In other words, the AFT not only wants to hide indoctrination from parents, they want government to demand it.

No government subsidies or vouchers will protect your child against that. In fact, they will make it harder to keep your child from brainwashing.

So, again, what do parents do?

I’ve been told that I lean too heavily on homeschooling as a solution. One teacher who comes to our monthly meetings told a relative that we don’t suggest any other solution BUT homeschooling.

Not true. While I believe homeschooling is a great solution, I understand it may not be right for everyone and that someday, if we don’t fix our education problem in this country, they will come after that as well. If the government starts giving money or credit for homeschooling, that won’t work either.

While it sounds good, there are so many issues with any government “subsidies” for homeschooling as a choice. Remember, government wants to intrude and control, which means they will start piling regulations and strings on homeschooling if money is involved. Some say, “well, don’t take the money.” But, as Nicki Truesdell (Nickitruesdell.com) author of “Anyone can Homeschool” says, it won’t matter. Perception is everything. Your neighbors will criticize you if you don’t do your teaching during traditional school hours, use materials they don’t approve of, etc. They will point to the money supposedly given to you and dispute how you used it without knowing if you took it or not.

The mere idea of government money given to homeschoolers will drive the price of instructional materials through the roof as well. Look to the college loan debacle. When the government started giving loans for college, tuition skyrocketed. And now we are stuck with another government program to illegally forgive those loans on the backs of the taxpayers. Does anyone think college tuitions will decrease in light of this action? If they do, they don’t know history or economics.

It’s not a pretty picture. Remember, people were willing to ostracize and report people who didn’t wear gauze pieces of paper across their face during the pandemic. Can you imagine how they will torture the homeschooler next door if they think that homeschooler got a voucher, stipend or tax refund to homeschool? Regulators and advisory committees will be on the doorstep at every turn.

In order for there to be real choices, the free market needs to work. Subsidies from the government for school choice of any kind won’t do the trick.

So, again, what do parents do? How do they stop this woke juggernaut that is destroying our children?

First. parents need to stop pretending that they know their school is a good school where no indoctrination occurs. There’s an old saying, “Trust, but verify.” Get in the school, get in the classroom, talk to teachers, principals. Ask tough questions. Get answers to those questions and if you don’t like what you hear, go up the ladder to administration. Be a pain in the neck every single day. You may be surprised that some school employees are actually on your side.

Ask your children questions. Search their backpacks for handouts, know what books they are reading, which internet sites they are visiting. It’s easier with younger children, but even teenagers will talk to parents who listen especially if it’s something you do about many topics.

Parents tell me their children will be targeted if they do this. My question to them is, aren’t your children already targeted? Just because they are a member of a targeted, indoctrinated group doesn’t mean they are NOT being targeted. Being one of the crowd isn’t better if you are still being fed poisonous content.

Share what you learn with other parents. Compare notes. Band together to provide your children with supplemental activities in history, reading, math and even science. Give your children alternatives that counter the progressive onslaught in the school.

Go to Board meetings and speak out about the things you see that you don’t agree with. If you must, get on the agenda every single meeting. Talk to system administrators and Board of Education members. Let them know you are not going away.

One of the ways for many of us will be to fight back, investigate, infiltrate, expose, and reform the system, not escape it.

And vote. Vote for people like Delegate Jeff Ghrist in Caroline County, Maryland, Dan Cox, Gubernatorial candidate in Maryland, and any other candidate who will support true reform and freedom in education. Ask Board of Education candidates how they will support transparency, strong content instruction, and parental rights and choice in education. Ask for specifics, not generalities.

Ayn Rand defined freedom, ” Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” Except for our children, they depend on US!

This is a great podcast on the topic:

Understanding School Choice – The Reason We Learn Podcast | Podcast on Spotify

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I am a 67 year old runner and conservative. I taught for 31 years and retired a few years back. In my life, I have coached and judged gymnastics, coached softball, and raised two amazing kids.

One thought on “Why School Choice Funded Through Vouchers, Tax Breaks or Stipends is Not the Answer”

  1. I totally agree!
    Thank you for the researched information, the warnings and the possible solutions.
    We have to vote as though our children’s lives depend on it.
    Because it does!
    Stay Vigilant!

Thanks for commenting!!