March 24, 2014

Five Questions About Politico’s Vouchers and Creationism Story

By Bellwether

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Politico Pro leading the week with a big story about public dollars, private schools, and the teaching of religion – in particular creationism.  Although it’s a minor issue in the big scheme of things, it does matter and this issue is one of the Achilles’ heels of the voucher movement. Here are five questions the story points to but doesn’t answer:

  1. The sensational lede doesn’t quite hold up.  The sum total of dollars being spent on religious schools doesn’t equal the total of dollars being spent on schools that teach creationism, for instance.  What’s the actual breakdown here?
  2. There is no high wall with schools. Besides vouchers or tax credits private schools also get dollars outside of vouchers through a variety of federal education programs they’re entitled to participate in as well as different kinds of support in many states. How do those dollars factor in?
  3. School voucher supporters can’t ignore this issue. Are all choice schools the same and we should leave it up to parents? Or is public oversight necessary? If so what sort of standards, or whose standards, should be used to marry choice and accountability where curriculum is concerned?
  4. Or does this issue just set the stage for tax credits because they cut public entanglement? And if so what does that imply for voucher supporters concerned about equity given that tax credits are not a very effective way to help the poor?
  5. The article is a little breezy on the performance of Catholic schools, how does the Catholic school sector factor into this conversation?

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