During a discussion about the midterm elections on Saturday’s Journal Editorial Report on Fox “news,” and the fact that a bunch of Republican governors were reelected in red states, host Paul Gigot asked guests Kim Strassel, Jason Riley and Allysia Finley why the results of those elections were an indication that “this was a good year for school choice.”
Riley cited wins in Iowa, and Texas, Tennessee and Florida, and specifically DeSantis winning in Miami-Dade county as “very encouraging,” and that “Republicans don’t need to be afraid of crossing the unions and championing school choice,” (pretending they haven’t already been attacking unions for decades) and that they “do not need to be afraid of this issue anymore.”
After Gigot noted that there “was one to potentially big setback” with Katie Hobbs’ win in Arizona, who is opposed to the voucher program just passed by the current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Finley discussed the fact that Hobbs will have trouble rolling it back with a Republican legislature.
Gigot asked Strassel about support by some Democrats like Josh Shapiro for charter schools in Pennsylvania. Strassel responded with praise for Shapiro, but called it “tentative reform.” As a recent article in The Tribune-Democrat discussed, unlike Republicans and those on the right, Shapiro doesn’t want to fund charter schools at the expense of public education:
Shapiro was clear in stressing that his backing of school choice hasn’t undercut a priority campaign pledge: Fully funding Pennsylvania’s public schools.
That apparently doesn’t go far enough to suit Strassel. She then proceeded to lie about who is benefiting from the voucher program just passed by Ducey in Arizona:
GIGOT: And Kim, there has been some progress on the Democrats particularly in Pennsylvania, where the new governor elect, Josh Shapiro came out in support of Pennsylvania’s program, tell us about that.
STRASSEL: Yes, so I think what’s happening here is that you have had everything that happened with covid, you saw what happened with Glenn Youngkin and in Virginia last year, who very much ran on this issue, and now you’re beginning to see people like Shapiro in states saying okay, we’re going to embrace some tentative reform here.
Because they understand this is become a very powerful issue among, not just Republican voters, but independent voters and a lot of Democratic communities, because those are, a lot of them are lower income communities, and especially the African-American community and others that, their children are the ones who would most benefit. and are demanding this the most.
And so, I think we’re going to see more of this. There’s still going to be enormous resistance from the teachers unions, and true progressives going to double down on this, but this is becoming something that’s growing into an issue that centrist Democrats feel that they can and should embrace.
A recent article at Forbes ran through the numbers from Arizona and came to a different conclusion.
Arizona Now Has A Universal School Voucher Program. Who Really Benefits From It?:
These vouchers were originally targeted at students attending public schools with a D or F grade from the state, students with special needs, and children of active military, as well as some other narrow qualifications. This summer, Arizona expanded those eligibility requirements to include every student in the state.[…]
Now that the application period for the universal vouchers is over, a picture of who will be served by them can emerge. A new analysis by the Grand Canyon Institute, a “centrist think tank” in Arizona, finds that the new system is no longer focused on helping poor students escape “failing” schools.[…]
Says GCI, “These vouchers primarily benefit wealthier households.” GCI found that no zip codes with a median income above $80,000 (well above the state median income) have schools receiving a D or F grade from the state. Those wealthier zip codes account for 45% of universal ESA applicants. Those zip codes that do include one “failing” high school or two “failing” k-8 schools only account for 3.5% of the universal ESA applicants.
80% of universal ESA applicants are not in public schools. That means one of two things must happen. Either the state must come up with additional funding (about $177 million in GCI’s estimate), or school districts will send funding to “follow” those students, even though the reduction in costs for the district will be $0.
As the article also noted, Arizona already had “extensive subsidy programs” for private schools, and this new ESA program will mean that Arizona taxpayers will be directly or indirectly subsidizing private schools to the tune of around $600 million, and while charter schools are required to do audits, recipients of this voucher money do not have those same requirements, are “free to discriminate and follow whatever academic program they prefer,” and there is very little oversight on how that money is going to be spent.
That won’t stop pundits like those who work for Fox and the Wall Street Journal from heaping praise on the program. As long as you’re owning the libs, destroying public education and busting the teachers’ unions, it’s all good.