This morning, the annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released. Its findings on private school vouchers was notable:
Seventy percent of Americans oppose private school vouchers — the highest level of opposition to vouchers ever recorded in this survey.
This is an encouraging development, since private school vouchers are a constitutionally troubling tool designed in part to funnel public funds to religious schools. They are also part of the assault on public education funded and coordinated by ALEC and its corporate allies. As discussed in PFAW’s Predatory Privatization report last year:
It is important to understand that targeted voucher programs that allow students from poor families, children with disabilities or students in underperforming schools to attend private schools that will accept them are not the ultimate goal of school privatizers. They are a tactical means to a much larger strategic end, which is the end of public education altogether, as pushed by David Koch in his run for the White House in 1980, echoing his late father’s John Birch Society antipathy to public schools as socialist or communist.
“Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling,” stated Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast in 1997. “In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime.” Heartland has received significant funding from right-wing foundations over the years, including the Charles Koch Foundation.
As Milton Friedman, intellectual godfather of the movement, said “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a free-market system.”
With all the firepower from the religious and corporate right aimed at our public school system, it is encouraging to know see a survey showing 70% opposition to one of their key weapons, private school vouchers.