Friday, July 02, 2004

PFAW on education

People for the American Way has a public education page on their site. The goal: to safeguard public education, unlike another so-called progressive 'centrist' policy group who works closely with corporate and conservative interests to give away public education.

Here's their summary of the voucher situation across the nation:
Vouchers Hit Dead End

Pro-Voucher legislation defeated in 26 states

As the 2004 state legislative sessions draw to a close, it is clear that Americans, and their state representatives, are committed to putting what resources they can into improving their public schools – as voucher legislation across the country failed in nearly every case this year.

Although the economic forecast for most states was much improved over the dark deficits of 2003, states still struggled to fund public education and meet the additional federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind mandates. But despite the budget struggles, right wing legislators in 26 states sought to advance pro-voucher legislation and introduced over 50 pieces of legislation that would divert monies from public schools to the coffers of private schools.

The only successful endeavor was a pre-school voucher bill that passed in Florida where the legislature is notorious for being pro-voucher. But even in this case, Governor Bush has yet to officially receive the legislation and it is unclear whether or not he will sign it into law. Voucher proponents came very close to victory in Iowa and Utah but Governors of both states vetoed the proposals. Although legislation is still technically alive in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, none are expected to advance.

More egregious is that while legislators continue to expand voucher programs, there were only two pieces of legislation that called for either fiscal or academic accountability of those programs, even though such problems continue to plague existing programs. In Florida legislators attempted to require state oversight of voucher programs but were unsuccessful in their efforts. Wisconsin settled on requiring some minimal financial and safety requirements on voucher schools in Milwaukee.

Parents, educators and the general public continue to make the case that vouchers don’t work and are not the answer to improving public education. People For the American Way will continue to stand with them in their fight.