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School Choice & Charters

Conservatives are Abandoning Vouchers? Seriously?

By Michele McNeil — May 08, 2008 1 min read

The Century Foundation’s Greg Anrig penned a piece in Washington Monthly recently titled: “An Idea Whose Time Has Gone”. And the subheadline reads: “Conservatives abandon their support for school vouchers.”

If you can’t figure it out from the headline, the gist is that the voucher movement is dead or dying, and conservatives have given up hope.

While vouchers aren’t explicitly campaign related, the issue is volatile and polarizing enough that it often crops up in state and local races—and even Barack Obama has mentioned the “V” word before.

And while I don’t want to argue the merits of vouchers or school choice, I feel compelled to argue that conservatives have not abandoned support for vouchers, and what’s more, this idea’s time has not gone.

Anrig writes: “In recent months, almost unnoticed by the mainstream media, the school voucher movement has abruptly stalled.”

I’m not sure if Education Week counts as “mainstream media,” but I just wrote a story stating almost the opposite: “Choice Surges Despite States’ Fiscal Woes.” Georgia has created a new tax credit for families and companies that donate to private school voucher funds. Louisiana approved a new tax deduction for families that pay private school tuition.

And in another story posted today online, I detail how Florida, in the midst of one of its worst budget crises ever—which has resulted in historic cuts to K-12 funding—managed to find $30 million to expand a corporate tax credit program that grants taxpayer-funded scholarships (aka vouchers) to students.

Furthermore, the controversial political action group All Children Matter, which targets anti-voucher candidates in state and local races, is still very active.

Last year, voters in Utah defeated a proposal that would have created a universal voucher program in their state. What the conservatives have given up on is the word “vouchers.” The idea of vouchers is still very much alive.

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