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More School Choice Often Means Less Democracy

A new commentary by Forbes Contributor Peter Greene points out that one way to understand the problems created by school choice is simple: Look at who’s holding the purse strings.

In a public school system, the money is controlled by taxpayer-elected school board members and state legislators. In voucher or charter systems, the money is controlled by the parents of students in the system. That means taxpayers without children in charter schools or voucher systems have no say in how their money is spent. Tax credit scholarships (TCS) disempower taxpayers even further by putting the purse strings in the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations. “A TCS system essentially lets those folks give their dollars to schools instead of using the money to pay their taxes,” Greene notes.

The implications of such a system were just seen by Rosen Resorts, million-dollar funders of Florida’s TCS system. When they discovered that some of the schools they support discriminate against gay students, they stopped supporting the system until the state stops the discrimination. There is no democratic process to allow taxpayers or student families to stop the problem. If there’s a policy change, it will be because private donors demand it.

“Each version of school choice is about cutting some number of taxpayers out of the loop, giving them no say in how their dollars, collected for the express purpose of educating students, will be spent. More choice too often means less democracy,” Greene concludes.

How school choice undermines democratic processes,” by Peter Greene, Forbes.

July 9, 2019