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Aww, come-on. Are private school vouchers really about dismantling our public education system?

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The purpose of vouchers, including voucher tax credits, is to privatize our public schools.  Here is economist Milton Friedman, who invented the voucher concept:

“Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a free-market system.” (from Public Schools: Make Them Private)

Dozens of groups, including the Cato Institute, march under that banner, calling it “school choice.”  The Cato Institute, which helped write and lobby for the New Hampshire voucher tax credit, says in its voucher policy paper:

Vouchers Are the Way to Separate School and State…Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling. In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime……Vouchers zero in on the government school monopoly’s most vulnerable point: the distinction between government financing and government delivery of service. …Because we know how the government schools perpetuate themselves, we can design a plan to dismantle them.

Recognize that phrase, “separate schools and state?”  Dismantling public education is the stated mission of New Hampshire’s only scholarship organization, the Network for Educational Opportunity, formerly called the Alliance for the Separation of School and State.

The Heartland Institute, which communicates continuously with New Hampshire legislators, says:

“The complete privatization of schooling might be desirable, but this objective is politically impossible for the time being. Vouchers are a type of reform that is possible now, and would put us on the path to further privatization.”

Actually, the national groups have written the script for New Hampshire voucher advocates – right down to the last detail. Here is a key voucher tax credit strategist (Dick DeVos, Amway moneytalking strategy.  He says you need to:

  • “Clarification of the Blaine Amendment”

DeVos credits the Institute of Justice for fighting the state Blaine Amendments forbidding the use of public funds for sectarian institutions.  This is the same group that is seeking to intervene in the New Hampshire court challenge to vouchers.

  • “Communicate the message that school choice works and helps public schools.”

DeVos says that advocates should use the terms “government schools” or “government-run schools” instead of “public schools.”  We’ve seen this argument – that voucher competition will improve public schools – for the past year, most recently in the Union Leader a few days ago, right down to the “government school” lingo (that former House speaker Bill O’Brien also repeats here).

  • “We need to target our ability at state level to deliver rewards and consequences to legislators on school choice issues.”

This is playing out right before our eyes.  Senator Nancy Stiles (R, Hampton) is the swing vote in the New Hampshire Senate,  Political reporter James Pindell writes here that Senator Stiles is concerned about getting a primary challenge if she supports voucher repeal.  Obligingly, Bill O’Brien talks  here about enforcing Republican orthodoxy and would surely solicit a tea party challenge to Sen. Stiles if she voted wrong on key issues like vouchers.

  • “Better coordinate the efforts among school reform groups.”

The Alliance for the Separation of School and State, the  Cato Institute, the Friedman FoundationNew Hampshire’s Bartlett Center, ALEC (through members like Bill O’brien and Will Smith) all coordinated closely on getting the New Hampshire’s voucher tax credit bill passed.

DeVos counsels secrecy (” We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities.”), so legislators like Sen. Stiles may not even be aware that they foot soldiers for the national school privatization effort.  But Sen. Stiles and other legislators are carrying this agenda forward whether or not they are aware of the implications.

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