Broward lawmakers see few options to stop school vouchers ‘bleeding’ public schools

Leaders raise the alarm about public money going to private schools.

The proposed expansion of school vouchers — and the resulting decrease in money for Broward County public schools — produced some sharp exchanges between state lawmakers and School Board members Thursday

One newly elected School Board member was told that supporting school choice amounted to a contradiction with the job she was elected to perform.

“If you’re on the School Board, not fighting to ensure that you have adequate funds for your students, so you can provide that high-quality education — I have a problem with that,” Weston Rep. Robin Bartleman, a former School Board member, told Brenda Fam, who was elected in November from the western side of the county.

But Fam was unrepentant.

“A lot of the public has lost confidence in the public schools,” Fam said.

The bill (HB 1) that would allow parents of any K-12 student — not just those living below a certain income threshold — to get a voucher to send their child to a private school is considered a top priority for the Republican-dominated Legislature. With the Republicans holding a supermajority in the Legislature, Democrats could find themselves cut out of the debate altogether.

Lawmakers representing the Democratic stronghold vowed to fight and introduce amendment after amendment, but were largely gloomy about what’s coming.

“This is going to tear down public education,” said Democratic Rep. Felicia Robinson of Miami Gardens.

An analysis from the Florida Policy Institute and Education Law Center is predicting billions in state school aid will be redirected from public to private schools.

“Once the bill has been put forward … there’s nothing we could do to stop the bleeding,” said Rep. Patricia Williams of Pompano Beach. “We know the numbers (Democrats have compared to Republicans) … it’s impossible to stop the bleeding.”

Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky of Boca Raton lamented that neither of the School Board members that Ron DeSantis appointed to the Broward School Board took part in Thursday’s meeting.

“It’s a shame that the two appointed members of this administration to the School Board are not here because maybe they can provide some insight into what the thinking is of this administration,” Polsky said.

Fam shot back: “First of all, this is not a partisan argument. This is about making our schools accessible to people who need it. (There are) people who don’t feel safe, people who have judged the public schools as failing and want to opt out to try something better for their child.”

Bartleman, however, was quick to point out private schools don’t have to meet the standards for safety and results that public schools are held to, including employing teachers that have college degrees.

“There should never be given public money with no accountability,” Bartleman said, noting that taking part in school vouchers means parents must sign a document giving away the rights they have in public schools.

By and large, School Board members urged lawmakers to fight against School Board term limits and requiring School Board race candidates to declare a political party — DeSantis’ other state priorities. School Board member Jeff Holness also asked lawmakers to maintain programs that deal with diversity, equity and inclusion — which the Governor has vowed to defund from the state’s higher education institutions.

“I do hope that our state reps and our state senators will continue to push and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in Tallahassee,” Holness said. “I didn’t see that as part of our priorities, so I made sure it’s on there. Please be strong advocates for that.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Paul Passarelli

    February 3, 2023 at 10:00 am

    That’s the idea behind the voucher programs! The Public Schools have been failing for DECADES. It’s time to tear down the buildings. fire the staff, and reclaim the lost resources.

    When private sector businesses fail the owners & stakeholders find better ways to generate a return on their investments(*). The Government simply throws more money on the burning piles of shit.

    (*) And yes our children are our investments in the future. To have allowed four+ generations(**) of schoolchildren to be processed like cattle and turn theno out woefully unprepared, is bad enough. But to continue that travesty simply because “that’s the way it works’ is borderline criminal activity on the parts of the elected officials that allow it to secure Teacher’s Union votes!

    (**) A generation of schoolkids is <12 years. The time it takes to process a set from early childhood to the age of majority.

  • Tjb

    February 3, 2023 at 5:45 pm

    Will the private schools beheld to the same standards as our k-12 public schools? Will they provide transparency? Public Schools are held to a high degree of accountability, will private school be held to the same standards?

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 3, 2023 at 9:17 pm

      Standards? What standards? Social promotion? Accepting Test & Quiz answers that are incorrect, but marked correct because the curriculum says so?

      Wait, are you talking about pandering to the teacher unions? Allowing people who only work 180 out of 240 workdays a year negotiate outlandish raises in salary, benefits, and pensions? Even when they fail their students for decades?

      Transparency? Like banning observers from the classrooms? Not disclosing the bully’s name to the parents of the bullied child? Zero tolerance policies that punish the innocent party in a playground scuffle?

      Yeah, right, these are all the things I want the private schools to emulate. NOT!

      The private schools *would* (or at least I hope they do) have admission standards. Screening qualifications. Defined expectations, for a vast number of characteristics, like basic abilities, behaviour, attitude, parent participation, demeanor, and ‘contracts’ with the students & parents that have teeth, not just up to expulsion with forfeiture of the voucher, but potential litigation for damages.

      In exchange the school will take all the necessary steps to educate the child, as opposed to socially passing them along to the next grade. How? The carrot & the stick. It’s a proven technique that works.

      But the beauty of the school I would run, is that it’s a “FREE MARKET” offering. No child is *required* to attend my school, and my school is not required to accept any child.

      If you believe you can run a better school, then you are free to compete with me for the same vouchers. I don’t need to tell you the secrets of my success and I don’t have to subscribe to the same policies of your failures. We compete. And the better school will emerge triumphant. As will the children of the parents that made the better choice.

      About now the blood is squirting out of the corners of your eyes, isn’t it? If you want to know why, see the article on the legislature condemning Socialism.


    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      February 4, 2023 at 7:55 am

      If you think public schools are held to a higher standard of accountability, you have another think coming. All you have to do is look at the miserable achievement gap between Anglos/Asians, Hispanics and blacks. It’s been that way for decades. Enough is enough.

      • Paul Passarelli

        February 4, 2023 at 11:23 am

        Hi Charlotte,

        I’m sure you recognize that Tjb doesn’t think that. But is simply using the only technique available. That technique is to drag anything that attempts to climb out of the sewer of the Public School system back into the filth.

        That is the real tragedy of Progressive-Socialist Equity.

      • Tjb

        February 4, 2023 at 12:44 pm

        Charlotte, are saying private schools and home schools are held to a higher standard by the our state education board ? Also, can you explain to me how the state will monitor these schools to ensure that these schools are meeting or exceeding our state educational standards?

        • Tjb

          February 4, 2023 at 12:45 pm

          Correction. “Charlotte are you saying”

      • Jim Cline

        February 5, 2023 at 8:33 am

        Charlotte, public schools often have better gifted programs, and very often have the specialists needed by dyslexic, oppositional/defiant, and cognitively challenged children. Private schools are often not able to meet the needs of these students.

        • Paul Passarelli

          February 5, 2023 at 11:51 pm

          Jim, let me ask you a question. Where do the Government Schools come up with the money for all these special programs? How much can they justify spending on any individual ‘troubled case’?

          I’ll tell you, they do it by skimping on the quality of everyone else’s education! Then they bemoan the insufficient public budgets.

          If the private sector gets a defiant kid then the private school will simply kick him out until the *PARENTS* reign the child in. In the meantime the rest of the kids will be getting the education that their vouchers paid for.

          If a private school is not meeting the needs of the parent or the child then the parent has the option of kicking in extra tuition for a ‘more satisfactory’ private school that does meet their ‘needs’ at a price they can afford.

          It’s like arguing that the family *needs* to eat ‘steak & lobster’ but doesn’t have the cash because the parents spend their salary on beer & cigarettes. Choices have consequences.

          In that light, the one indisputable thing about school vouchers is that they can’t be misspent on anything other than school tuition.

          Bottom line, the Private Sector invariably finds a way to make finite sums of money work *profitably* to complete almost any task. While the government would take infinite sums of money to fail at most tasks.

      • cassandra

        February 5, 2023 at 2:44 pm

        Your grandkids will be going to some low performing private religious school because your voucher won’t cover the full tuition at a more expensive school where kids actually receive a decent education. They won’t even be accepted at the new and destroyed New College! But go ahead and cheer to shovel more tax money to the rich and corporate schools.

        BTW, wait till Desantis revokes your contraceptives, Charlotte.

        • Paul Passarelli

          February 5, 2023 at 11:53 pm

          Hi Cassandra, I know you don’t want to believe in Private Property, but that is such a depressing outlook. It’s also based on nonsense.

          • cassandra

            February 6, 2023 at 7:26 pm

            Hi Paul, You say, on February 5, 2023 at 11:51 pm:
            “…the parent has the option of kicking in extra tuition for a ‘more satisfactory’ private school…”

            This is what will happen Paul. Children whose parents can afford to send them to a more expensive school will receive a better education, if only because pricier schools can provide what “basic” schools can’t: better educated teachers, books (not all anti-WOKE), activities, equipment, etc.

            Another problem is that some parents will be unable to evaluate the various private schools. If you recall, one of the “Moms for Liberty” actually said she knows best what her child needs from a school because she was pregnant for nine months and because she took her child to the ER at one point! It also appears that nothing can be done to prevent outright indoctrination such as is happening with the NAZI “Dissident Homeschool” program in Ohio.

            Right now, Desantis is convincing gullible parents that schools should only be teaching basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. Nothing more. That’s all many of the private schools will teach.

            I like where you say to me: “I know you don’t want to believe in Private Property”.. Like I’m willfully insane or something!

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 7, 2023 at 9:41 am

            Hi Cassandra,

            Yes, I realize that there will be disparity of outcome. That is natural and inevitable. Striving for *EQUITY* of outcome is insane. Shaving off the peaks does not fill in the valleys!

            It’s not that I’m saying you are _insane_ on the private property issue, but it does require a degree of cognitive dissonance that I will never understand. I understand the desire to ‘do nice’ for others, but that ALWAYS needs to be the decision of *INDIVIDUALS*, never the collective.

            I would say that you are applying selective logic to the power of peer pressure. When the entire community is highly educated, then the one you said: “…said she knows best what her child needs from a school because she was pregnant for nine months…” won’t be that ignorant!

            Will it happen overnight? No. It took the Democrats >50 years to drag us down to the current levels of depravity. It’ll lake at least four and probably 6-10 years to fix. But it will continue to get worse at an accelerating pace if we do nothing. Pockets from single schools to entire districts can go from ‘sad’ to ‘dismal’ in less than a year. I’ve seen that happen in CT.

          • cassandra

            February 8, 2023 at 1:04 pm

            Reply to your comment on February 7, 2023 at 9:41 am:

            Paul, you are right that disparity of outcome is unavoidable. It’s the disparity of OPPORTUNITY that is unfair. DeSantis’ plan will further widen the existing gap between students from affluent families and those whose families are poorer.

            As for ‘peer pressure’, you sound a bit optimistic to me. It seems that rather than learning, the most ignorant–like ‘Moms for Liberty’—are teaching!

            I have heard no Republican explanation as to why the party is uninterested in investing in public schools in an effort to return these assets to their prior excellence instead of abandoning them. I started to write something about the state having no control over the private schools, but realized–as I’m sure you could have told me– the situation is quite the opposite; DeSantis will have complete control over the private schools, with no resistance whatsoever.

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 8, 2023 at 1:46 pm

            Hi Cassandra,

            How does opening up the field to competition reduce opportunity? That makes no sense.

            The gap you speak of does in fact have a natural tendency to increase. But what you fail to recognize is that is simply in the nature of exponential growth. Trying to force any pattern whose *natural* tendency is exponential growth, into any other pattern is necessarily going to meet with resistance, pushback, hostility, and resentment. Again, that is the nature of the process.

            Yes, I am optimistic that an ‘educated’ (what did you call them; “something something NAZI”) will cease to be ignorant of the nonsense they are currently spouting. Organized hate is invariably a pushback to a perceived injustice. Think about it.

            you asked about: “… investing in public schools in an effort to return these assets to their prior excellence …”

            1) The word “investing” is the wrong term. It’s an expense.
            2) Because the Left has systematically used the once excellent system as a bludgeon. That said, the system is simply too far gone to restore. Anyone with an ounce of experience knows that at some point it is far less expensive to toss what exists out the window and start fresh. It’s also known as throwing good money after bad. There are a million anecdotal stories of wasting fresh resources on the pile of rotten ones, that fail to correct the rot at the core.

            And on the issue of control. I understand your worry. The bromide about ‘The Golden Rule’ the one with the gold makes the rules. But that’s where I have enormous faith in *HONEST* competition! The Free Market finds the entrepreneurs with the skills & ambitions to find their fortunes in those cash flows. And when there is a profit motive to excel there is the incentive to deliver high performance and/or excellence to win those profits.

            Also, the private sector is nimble & swings lightly, while the government is slow & heavily pendulous.

            So when you say: “DeSantis will have complete control over the private schools, with no resistance whatsoever.” again, I have to wonder what the hell you are talking about. That’s a rant, not a considered analysis.

            And the reason I believe you are saying that is because it’s simply too much for the Left to grasp that when the system they broke gets discarded I am really referring to razing the structures, if not the physical buildings, to the ground. Literally all vestiges of the existing Boards of Education, Teachers & Teachers’ Unions, Departments and Administrations, administrators, support staff, janitors & custodians, GONE!

            Why? Because they all have stories of “The way it used to be around here was …” and that will only sow the seeds of destruction.

            In that new soil we plant healthy seeds. On that fresh ground we build new towers of academia. But for the first 4-6 years we keep plastic on everything, because the current crop of 6-12 graders are deeply tainted with the old dirt.

            It’s really not a difficult task, but it is a hard one. It will take a dedicated team of strong people like me, who have the 100,000 ft overview of the problem; to tell the weak minded sheeple on the Left, who have their heads down in the grass, to stay the course. Or the whole thing will implode & fall back to its current state of decay & filth.

          • cassandra

            February 9, 2023 at 4:34 pm

            Hi Paul,

            I am not saying that competition reduces opportunity. However opportunity for financially disadvantaged children is limited when schools with tuition equal to the school voucher provide only a ‘basic’ (reading, writing, arithmetic) education. (If the schools offered more they would charge more.) Families who can pay the balance after the voucher has been applied will demand services and results that are better than basic, giving their child greater educational opportunities.

            The “something something” is an Ohio based homeschooling group calling themselves “Dissident Homeschool Network“. Participants refer to themselves as NAZIS and use pro-Hitler lesson plans that incorporate Hitler quotations (to improve penmanship, for example) and proudly teach every ‘ism’ and ‘phobia’ available. Not an exaggeration. I believe it would take extensive education to remove the group’s ignorance, though I’m not opposed to trying.

            Investing? Good point; But the term is also commonly used in reference to expenses in cases such as: investing in the latest technology, investing in a new tractor for the farm, investing in our future—- and so on.

            While it’s often “…far less expensive to toss what exists…”, it’s not always the best idea. Would you have your hand-knotted wool Persian rug repaired, or just replace it with something polyester from Walmart?

            What I am talking about is DeSantis’ demands that schools teach (indoctrinate in) only his “permitted” topics, banning books, banning “woke”, forcing trans girls to use the boys’ restroom, etc. Even if parents do not want these restrictions on their child’s education. Parents will not have access to truly Free Market choices because offerings will be planned by the state—always with the threat/promise of retaliation for noncompliance. After consideration, it’s my opinion that DeSantis, not parents, will be the entrepreneurs’ actual customer.

            The interesting part, Paul: It sounds like you are saying that you are/will be personally involved somehow in the creation of this new system and that (maybe) you have some particular type of experience or knowledge that is/will be useful to the project. ??

          • cassandra

            February 10, 2023 at 10:26 am

            Hi Paul,

            I replied to your comment of February 8, 2023 at 1:46 pm, but it’s “awaiting moderation”. In it I answered all your questions and addressed all concerns. I also said I was interested in whether you are/will be personally involved somehow in the creation of this new system. And since you say that it will require people like you, I asked what experience or knowledge you have that would be useful to the project.

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 10, 2023 at 11:39 am

            Hi Cassandra, Short list:

            1) I was a ‘victim’ of the Norwalk Public Schools (1969-1982). So I know all things that they did wrong — ‘for my own good’.

            2) I was the parent of children in the same NPS (1995-2008), minus the 04-05 school year when we homeschooled.

            3) I was a taxpayer in the City of Norwalk (1980-2019) and watched my tax dollars be squandered by the school system while the education standards plummeted.

            4) I am a multi-disciplinaty engineer & professional consultant. My major accomplishments are as a ‘troubleshooter’. When projects are late, over budget, choked, in the weeds, failed, etc., I come in with the approval of the top stakeholders, evaluate the situation critically, apply the deep shash & burn tactics, then rebuild the systems, sometimes from the ground up. I always hit the new budget numbers, and I always beat the new delivery timelines.

            Yes, I frequently left behind a trail of destruction, disgruntled workers & middle-managers, rent-seekers, sunken dead-wood. But that was all swept away by the tide. When I say goodbye, the company has their product, and a tiny core team that knows how to manage it.

            Believe it or not, like it or not, six year old kids are a remarkably uniform ‘raw material’ for the socio-political system known as Primary Schooling.

            A school that is firmly committed to that reality can turn almost any child into a well-adjusted, high-functioning adult, with excellent prospects for the future. And they can accomplish that foe a *very* reasonable cost — IF — they are allowed to optimize the process!

            It’s true that not 100% of the kids will fit that model. And recognizing that there is a fraction that cannot be processed is crucial to achieving the high yields I project. long term results will be *exactly* what the ‘customers’ i.e. society demand.

            Society has two choices:
            1) Try to achieve 100% compliance. This is equivalent to pushing the entire pig (hair, feet, guts, & bones) into the sausage grinder. We see what this has produced.
            2) Apply some careful trimming to the ‘less desirable’ components. We can have tenderloins, hams, chops, jowls, even pork rinds, & tasty sausages.

            I chose this analogy specifically to elicit a bit of disgust. I’m not saying that the discarded kids literally be turned into fertilizer, but they do need to be handled at specialized facilities that one does not associate with a provider of fine meats.

            What would I bring to the project: Oversight; at the highest level. Planning; also from the ERS (Expectations, Requirements, & Specifications) level.

            As I have just demonstrated, there are very few people what are bold & confident enough to put what I just did in writing. And without that emotional steel, the plan won’t succeed.

            What would I put at risk? Two year’s salary plus bonus. Meaning: If I’m contracted to do the job; I want a five year contract, with an option for three more (8 total). If after three full years, my system isn’t working beyond expectations, we exercise a termination clause. and I forfeit everything past the 36 month mark (provided I’ve not been sabotaged and there has been no subterfuge or conspiracy).

            Outwardly, I’d even be willing to leave the existing crap in place for the first *School Year* (MoL).

            The only question is do the elected leaders have the balls to do what is needed. And I think we both know that answer to that question.

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 10, 2023 at 12:43 pm

            Hi Cassandra, {Responses out of order. WordPress?}

            you wrote: “However opportunity for financially disadvantaged children is limited when schools with tuition equal to the school voucher provide only a ‘basic’ (reading, writing, arithmetic) education.”

            From the parent’s perspective, how is that any worse than the current Public School offering? (q.v. my previous response to your next posting)

            you wrote: “Families who can pay the balance after the voucher has been applied will demand services and results that are better than basic, giving their child greater educational opportunities.”

            As they should! I think what you’re missing is that there would be *multiple* offerings! Gone will be the days of the ‘central school’ where kids are warehoused in a failed effort to achieve economies of scale, Yes, some of those practices are necessary in rural settings, but transportation & logistics need to be treated as distinct from the aspect of education.

            The whole point is to make the voucher’d schools *attractive*. That is accomplished by their *results*. If the parents are looking for what is essentially Government Funded Daycare then that is what they will receive. But even with that miserable criteria, a *private* school will be able to educate their children. It’s called making Deliverables Exceed Expectations.

            you wrote: “… talking about is DeSantis’ demands that schools teach (indoctrinate in) only his “permitted” topics, banning books, banning “woke”, forcing trans girls to use the boys’ restroom, etc.”

            Which seems like hyperbole. Especially when the “permitted” lessons are actually things like: history, math, English, science, economics, etc. Referring to them as “indoctrination” is more then disingenuous. The only reason the Left latches on to that complaint is because the governor & the GOP is demanding that those subjects be free from *political biases*, which strikes at the heart of the Progressive-Socialists’ agenda to actually indoctrinate the past 4-5 generations of our youth. (see #1 ‘victim of NPS’ above).

            Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of 3rd party payer systems. And vouchers are exactly that. But they are infinitely preferable to a government provided and unaccountable bureaucracy. However, once the vouchers become attached to the student, and that student’s parents are free to designate the payee, then the vouchers are in effect subject to the Free Market forces.

            I’m sure you hate the fact that some “NAZI” classrooms will be able to redeem those vouchers for cash. I can say it’s doesn’t thrill me either. However there is a reasonable solution. In independent board of regent’s high stakes testing. From time to time the regents will visit schools with voucher budgets and literally pull a random sampling of students from the classroom, and administer proctored tests in a travelling trailer. No warnings will be given, to chances to prepare the specific students for the tests, and the tests will have no bearing on the student’s ultimate awarding of GPA & graduation. These are essentially *QUALITY CONTROL* tests of the school’s ‘product’ i.e. an educated student. If the school fails the tests, then the vouchers are discounted or even denied.

            That’s one of the prices the school’s must ‘pay’ to be able to redeem literally millions of dollars of taxpayer funds. It guarantees accountability.

            As a member of Mensa, I can say I know more than a little about intelligence testing. I know how to accomplish it, I know how to interpret the raw results, and I know how to deal with the inevitable variations baked into the responses.

            I will admit that there is one type of ‘client’ that the system I’m proposing simply will not accommodate. That is the parent that stands in 100% opposition to the very idea of education, and has some twisted ‘cultural imperative’ to oppose the education of their children. The only thing my system can do with them is to reject their participation outright. And that’s too is the beauty of the Free Market.

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 10, 2023 at 12:47 pm

            Hi Cassandra,

            In case anyone hasn’t yet noticed, most of what is written here has been written before. By me, in CT. But CT is Deep Blue and the Teacher’s Unions there have far too much power & influence. Which is why it’s become as bad as it has.

            I’ve contemplated the ins & outs for twenty plus years.

          • cassandra

            February 12, 2023 at 12:38 am

            Hi Paul,

            Without knowing what it is that schools will be required to provide it’s difficult to estimate the level of disparity of opportunity that will exist. What percentage of schools will be required to provide ‘basic’ education? Will rich schools pay poor schools to provide basic level education (buy/sell ‘basic’ credits)? What if few schools want to compete for ‘basic’ students?

            Within a school ‘company’ will separate ‘basic’ and ‘premium’ buildings/faculty/extracurricular offerings exist, or will ‘basic’ and ‘premium’ programs be housed together with children receiving only those services covered under their level?

            And what happens when a highly intelligent or talented student cannot afford a level that he/she needs? If a scholarship is provided, what talents will be eligible: academic, fine arts, performing arts, sports? Who decides? Does the government provide the scholarships?

            And what about education for children with special needs—-academic, behavioral, or psychological? Teen parenting? Would public schools serve those students because private schools did not find them profitable.

            Then there are questions such as: refunds, transfers? Will voucher schools be responsible or will taxpayers be required to cover any problems that would be a ‘financial burden’ ?

            Not having answers to the many questions before agreeing to vouchers seems as foolish as not reading a contract before signing.

            The biggest problem, though, is that segregation by income is not a good thing for individuals or society. You may say this already happens. But there are many reasons that kids who can afford private school tuition attend public: gifted programs, educated and certified teachers, greater choice in courses including electives, sports, extracurricular activities, etc.

            “Indoctrinate? That’s DeSantis’ word! But one example would be DeSantis’ inaccurate and biased civics program that teaches nonsense such as the Founders did not care about Separation of Church and State!

            You say: “political biases”. Like age appropriate discussions of families that reassure children that having only one dad is just as good as having two dads—just different?

            What about “woke”? If there is demand for a “woke” education will that be “permitted” by DeSantis? Will government vouchers cover that school?

            And what about required subjects? DeSantis has convinced a large segment of the population that schools should teach reading, writing, and arithmetic—only. From what I have seen, this does not include any critical thinking skills or any application to the real world. Will students in ‘basic’ programs be taught enough to get into a college?

            You already know that I’m not a fan of school privatization. Right now I can’t think of any reason that the government should provide vouchers to any school/student whose tuition is greater than the basic voucher amount. If a student wants to attend a pricier school they pay the entire amount. This would bring the system closer to Free Market (my uneducated opinion!)

            I like your quality control testing idea. There does need to be accountability. It will be interesting to see whether those screaming most loudly for it now continue to demand it from taxpayer funded private schools.

            I know that when children are given an appropriate education starting at a young age they have a much higher chance for success. When I lived in DE I was a substitute (I am not a teacher!) at a Philadelphia pre-K for a few years and saw the progress— actually transformation—-poor children made in a structured but very stimulating educational environment. But that was public education—Head Start.

            You attended public schools, yet are obviously well educated, Paul. How did you learn? Did you need to ‘supplement’ your public school education? And what about your children? I don’t understand why you would choose to send your children to public schools? Was there some benefit?

            Are you saying that you would be capable of rebuilding the public school system if given control of the project and the ability to take whatever actions were needed to create a highly effective school system at a much lower cost? But that there would be little left of the original system? Is the underlying structure of what we have today so much different from what existed in the past?

            I don’t know much about private or religious schools. I went to Catholic kindergarten, but public schools after that. Catholic was a little scary: we used to have prayers, and one day we were in our little circle asking Mary to watch over us. We were all supposed to have our eyes closed, but I took a peek toward the ceiling to see if Mary was in fact observing. Just when I looked up, something— maybe dust—- fell into my eyes. Years later I still don’t glance up a whole lot in a church.

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 12, 2023 at 12:14 pm

            Hi Cassandra,

            That’s a lot to discuss, so I’ll go fast.

            1) All schools must meet or exceed standards to redeem vouchers for cash. How they accomplish that is up to them. They advertise/publish their offerings and the parent’s choose which school they desire.

            2) Special needs on either end of the spectrum may or may not be offered by the various schools/companies. It depends on what ‘special needs vouchers’ are made available. Right now the school districts generally hide this data from the taxpayers, specifically what they spend for these programs in their ‘averages’.

            3) People tend to self segregate. Denying that basic human nature is silly.

            4) Will there be ‘woke’ schools? Yes. Will there be catholic or even sharia schools? Yes there will, and everything in between. Until market forces determine which schools are non-viable. Do I like the idea of either extreme? No. But I respect the individual’s right to choose — it’s a 1A thing.

            5) And finally, you need to grasp that there will no longer be *ANY* ‘Government Schools’. There will still be ‘private schools’ that simply do not choose to accept vouchers, just as there are now. Any school that does accept vouchers will in effect be pseudo-public, in that is will be subject to the various testing schemes to assure that taxpayers dollars are being used effectively. But they will also be psuedo-private in that they will have the right to determine what kinds of students they choose to educate.

            The underlying factor that determines what succeeds & what fails will be the Free Market. Offerings that satisfy enough people will succeed, those that are inherently restrictive or ideologically undesirable will fail. Just compare the number of vegan restaurants to italian restaurants in any city anywhere in the USA.

            P.S. I wanted to send my kids to Greens Farms Academy in Westport. It’s like Hogwart’s without the actual magic. But the tuition was ~20k/kid/year (K-5), and we have twins. We didn’t know we had to apply essentially when they were born, and so we were late effectively missing that boat. I also had other financial obligations that had exceeded $10k/mo, and so there simply wasn’t enough cash remaining to cover. Besides, we bought our first house in the neighborhood we did specifically to send the kids to Cranbury Elementary. So that’s where they went.

            It wasn’t until 7th grade that we became so disgusted with their ‘woke’ principal that we pulled them from the 8th grade and home schooled. They returned to the public schools as HS Freshman where they were suddenly way ahead of their peers after only one year in the real world. The toughest thing about the home schooling experience was finding a ‘secular’ curriculum. Most home schoolers gravitate to the religious side. I reviewed several of the well regarded ones, but there were still too many holes, and the texts were too preachy for my taste/tolerance.

            (Imagine if I wrote long answers…)

          • cassandra

            February 12, 2023 at 4:16 pm


            I imagine I’d write long questions.

            –Talk soon

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