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More on Conservatives Abandoning Vouchers


Take a minute to read Greg Anrig's comment that further explains his reasoning that conservatives have abandoned the voucher movement. He responded to a blog item I did questioning his recent article in the Washington Monthly.

Anrig makes a good argument. But I still think that while conservatives may have abandoned economist Milton Friedman's idea for vouchers from a strict interpretation standpoint, they've merely shifted their political strategies and are trying to accomplish the same thing without calling it "vouchers."

Checker Finn weighs in with a similar argument here, saying that Anrig has been "overhasty" and that "choice is winning."

But what do you think? Is the fight for vouchers over? Are charter schools the new avenue for conservatives?


I think you are both partially right. Watching the wires a bit I agree with you Michele that vouchers are as hot as ever in state legislatures. But, I sort of think the loss in Utah has dampened spirits on vouchers. Add that to the litigation losses in Florida and vouchers suddenly seem a pretty politically costly policy. Even if you win it, it is going to take a lot of fight and litigation (and dollars) to do so. Add to that the general shift toward Democrats the past couple years and I think conservatives are picking different battles, such as charters, where they have a greater likelihood of success.

So choice is as strong as ever, but the vouchers element is not. And that is a pretty important distinction, at least to a legal scholar, since we have a Supreme Court case on the books permitting vouchers. I don't think the voucher idea is dead by any means (especially since the Supreme Court decision is already on the books), but I do feel we are in a lull here on vouchers and we are not going to see a lot of significant action on that front for the next few years.

Unless the value of each voucher is the difference a family can contribute to sending their child to the school of their choice the illusion will continue.
For example, if the highest private school tution in a state is $35,000.00 then the voucher needs to be worth difference of the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). A family that lives in poverty will need the voucher to be worth $32,000.00 while a family that can contribute $12,000.00 will need the voucher to be worth $20,000.00.

Anything less than ensuring a "difference value voucher" will lead us to the educational version of an economical caste system.


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