I have some questions for Robert Robb on vouchers!

05 Apr 2017 11:14 pm
Posted by: Donna

Bob Robb Raw
Not an actual photo of AZ Republic columnist Bob Robb

As an expansion of vouchers makes its way to an AZ Senate vote Thursday, Bob Robb has questions for opponents of the bill that I’m sure he came up with entirely on his own and not via talking points brainstormed up in a Goldwater Institute and/or Heritage Foundation conference room:

Opponents are using the analysis as a club to beat the expansion to death. Vouchers are just a con job to help the rich pay to send their pampered offspring to posh private schools, they exhort. And drain resources from district schools for average Jacks and Jills.

There’s actually less here than meets the eye.

ESAs are currently used mostly to help educate special education students. It shouldn’t be surprising that affluent parents are quicker to find and use resources to help their special-needs children than low-income parents. But does that make the existence of the option a social injustice?

Why constantly try to sell them by guilt-mongering over disadvantaged poor minority kids then?

Robb goes on to make some speculative claims – when special ed students walk out the door, more expenses than revenue go with them” “The use of vouchers by parents of special ed students isn’t necessarily predictive of what would happen if access to them were made universal. But it is suggestive.” – before he gets back to pooh poohing the importance of the finding that vouchers are being used mainly by affluent families (exactly as critics predicted).

For these parents, the cost of sending their children to parochial school can be a considerable financial sacrifice. Truly high-performing charter schools with traditional programs have been cannibalizing parochial school enrollments in upper middle-class neighborhoods. For some of these parents, a voucher could tip the balance back in favor of the parochial school.

So, is it a con job to argue that vouchers are intended to help low-income students and parents? Not entirely.

Again, it is a con job when the ESAs are being sold with lugubrious pleas about poor children. Why does Bob Robb think this kind of deceit is okay?

Oh, he gets to that. Behold:

It may be politically incorrect, but it would be obtuse not to acknowledge that upper middle-class parents are more likely than low-income parents to take an active role in directing their children’s education and taking advantage of whatever options are available. Compensating for indifferent or destructive parenting is one of the challenges for inner-city schools.

That right there is vintage Bob Robb*.

Vouchers, however, give low-income parents who want to take an active role in directing their children’s education more options. Given that most private schools have a religious affiliation and sense of mission, scholarships are often available to bridge the voucher-tuition gap.

I have questions for Robb now. First, where would even the most educationally motivated low income families be able to afford to educate their children in private schools with subsidies (from all sources) less than 100% of tuition, uniforms, meals, transportation, and sundry other expenses always or often covered by public school districts? Next, since he already acknowledged in his column how poor families don’t use them and predicts expanding them will not change that, then what is he even doing here?

Oh right, Robb is making the same bullshit sales pitch using poor people as props as the professional voucher peddlers do. Is this why he wants voucher opponents to stop pointing out what a lie that is and instead pay attention to the pink squirrel he wants them to see over there?

*Oh, I’ve had this dude’s number for so many years now.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Phoenix Justice on April 6, 2017 12:04 pm

    Mr. Robb, like the rest of his ilk, only care about the “perception” that this is for poor and minority students when in reality it just another conservative money grab for private gain and destruction of public education.

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