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Timothy D. Slekar Headshot

Pennsylvania and Vouchers: What the Supporters are Really Saying.

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"How can vouchers improve public schools if the people mobilizing the movement intend to eradicate public education?" Rachel Tabachnick

On October 26, 2011, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 1 (A school voucher bill). Hey, everybody else is doing it and we don't want to be seen as a "status quo" state.

So how did this happen? Well, take millions of dollars from the DeVos family and other corporate reformers, find a politician that has a disdain for public schools and teachers (Like Senator John Eichelberger), develop a fictional story of failing schools in the state, and then ram the legislation home.

For example, here is part of what Senator Eichelberger posted on his blog the day before the full Senate vote on Senate Bill 1. Pay attention to the statistics that aren't supported. Why? Because the statistics he reports are a part of the fictional "failing schools" narrative -- the Shock Doctrine!

"Much of what I heard from public school employees today was about how well the current system works. It is important for people to understand that statewide our students come in 42nd out of the 50 states in SAT scores, we are in the bottom third in PSSA testing (perhaps as low as 45th), we are first or second in what we spend per pupil in the classroom, we lead the country in teacher strikes and pay school employees more than most any other state. The schools have received hundreds of millions of additional dollars from the state over the past eight years, they received billions in federal stimulus money, and the majority of schools continued to raise taxes on the property owners back home."

Below I present satirical conclusion to the Senator's blog.

Therefore my fellow citizens, the corporate reformers and I are shoving taxpayer-subsidized vouchers down your throats. I fully understand that all the credible research on vouchers demonstrates that vouchers will do nothing to help the fake problem I outlined above, but that doesn't really matter. You see us RE4MERS don't really care about evidence or what's really best for the vast majority of kids in this state or the other 49 states for that matter. It is finally time to take you (taxpayers) to the cleaners. We have pushed this for 30 years and now we have finally duped you lemmings, oops I mean citizens, into believing that the sky is falling and the only way to save yourself is to sacrifice what little you have left and let me funnel it to the corporate machines that should really control your schools. It's actually hard for me to believe that it finally worked (convincing the middle class and the poor to support policies that cut their own throats). But the public school system was the perfect target. Blaming teachers and schools for the failed economic policies of the 1% was beautiful don't you think?

I know. To some of you it may seem a little over the top. But is it? The reformers really just want access to the millions of dollars tied up in public schools. They see public schools as the last bastion of socialism and want it eradicated. My wish is that they would just speak freely about their hatred of "government" schools and tell the public about their ultimate intention -- destroying our community based public school system and creating a new system of private education that will serve the "least of us" or the 99% in the most cost effective and efficient manner.