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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Republicans: NO to Special Ed, NO to Title I, NO to College Students--but YES to Vouchers

I used to think that former US Secretary of Education Rod Paige had more gall than anyone else ever to hold that position. After all, he presided over a "Texas Miracle" that everyone--including, almost certainly, Paige himself--knew was an absolute and utter hoodwinking, but which became the basis for No Child Left Behind. However, current DoEd Secretary Margaret Spellings is giving Paige a run for the money in the gall department.

After the report showing that private schools are no better than public schools squeaked meekly out of the DoEd in last Friday's document dump, Spellings had the nerve yesterday to stand next to Republican members of Congress and announce a proposal for a national voucher program. These vouchers would, of course, send students from their public schools into the private ones that we now know won't teach them any better, at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million.

Let's keep in mind some of what Republicans have proposed not spending money on (from both Congress and Bush):
  • Special Education: $500 million proposed cut
  • Title I, the program which targets aid to poor and minority students: $400 million proposed cut
  • Education Technology State Grants: $300 million proposed cut
  • Teacher Training Grants: $300 million proposed cut
  • Even Start, an early-childhood program: $100 million proposed cut
  • Upward Bound (which I'm teaching this summer): $300 million proposed cut
  • Arts in Education: $35 million proposed cut
  • Loans, grants and scholarships to college students: $300 million proposed cut
  • After-school programs: $900 million proposed cut
  • Vocational Education State Grants: $1.1 billion proposed cut
That is not a complete list, of course, but I think it should give you some sense of where the GOP's priorities are. The programs listed above are tested and proven programs for enhancing the quality of and access to education all across the country. Yet the Republicans are not interested in programs that provide support and assistance to the poor or minorities--or that might help (gasp!) members of the teachers unions improve the quality of their instruction. They only seem willing to support religious and private schools, knowing that those schools' ability to teach the students using those vouchers is not better (and knowing that the accountability is non-existent) than the public schools'.

Remember what I said here? Ignorance of reality in service of ideology is the ultimate state of being for much of the GOP. This is further proof of that if I ever saw it.

There's additional response to Spellings and the GOP's proposal all over the place. Some of the best I've seen has come from People for the American Way, Jim Horn, and Don Byrd, whose links are worth a read, too.

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