Nothing could be further from the truth. The true goal is the privatization of public education via a universal voucher program available in every district, open to every student, and encompassing every private, for-profit, or religious school that can find a place to hang a shingle.
Vouchers for low-income families in beleaguered urban districts are merely a tactic. As voucher advocate Daniel McGroarty wrote in a recent strategy paper for the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, "means-tested vouchers may prove a viable beachhead" - a way "to win and hold new ground in the long march to universal school choice."
We do not criticize parents who turn to vouchers in an attempt to do what is best for their child. And we recognize that there are many talented and committed teachers in private schools. But we have little sympathy for policy-makers who abandon public education and who argue that vouchers and privatization are the answer to our country's educational shortcomings.
In this issue of the paper, Rethinking Schools is pleased to present a 4-page insert outlining arguments against the voucher movement. We also encourage readers to get a copy of our 88-page booklet, Selling Out Our Schools: Vouchers, Markets, and the Future of Public Education.
Advocates of equity and social justice must keep a sharp focus on reforming public schools and demanding that they fulfill their responsibility to educate all children. There is no doubt that public schools must do a much better job of giving students the skills they need to understand, maneuver in, and improve society. However, we must not be tricked into thinking that the only alternative is a system of private schools and for-profit endeavors.