Vouchers Dubious plan
Gazette editorial – Charleston Gazette-Mail
Conservatives who control the Legislature are pondering school vouchers — a strategy designed partly to funnel tax money to churches or segregated schools.
This effort is intensified by incoming President Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos — a longtime foe of public schools — to be his education secretary.
Marshall University professor Bobbi Nicholson explained in a Gazette-Mail commentary that DeVos, heiress to Amway billions, has spent decades trying to divert tax money from public schools and send it to religious schools instead.
She told an assembly:
“Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”
A Tuesday New York Times commentary was titled “Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools.”
It said she leads U.S. efforts to replace public education with fundamentalist indoctrination.
Another goal of vouchers is to let white parents keep their children away from black students in public schools.
Dr. Nicholson wrote: “Vouchers were, in fact, first introduced in the South in the wake of desegregation orders arising from Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In 1959, for example, Virginia Gov. Lindsay Almond introduced tax-funded tuition grants to white families who wanted to send their children off to private schools that were not subject to desegregation laws.”
West Virginia’s embattled public schools already are in trouble. They produce students who score low on standardized tests. They’re chronically underfunded, as property tax revenue from the fading coal industry declines.
It will be tragic if legislators serve a small clique of parents who want tax money to put their children into religious or segregated schools — instead of the vast majority of parents who continue sending their youngsters to public schools.