Monday, January 28, 2008

Pell Grants For Kids = Vouchers In Disquise

This is the first I've heard of this, and so I've not had a chance to review the President's proposal. However, it seems like he's got another plan to divert public funds to parochial and private education. Watch as the separation of church and state shrinks again.

The fact is, parents who can afford to send their children to private schools don't need the assistance. Moreover, there are a tremendous number of things broken with our public educational system. Can't Bush find something in the system that needs a remedy and fix that instead of creating a new welfare system for the rich?
White House counselor Ed Gillespie, describing Bush's plans for a new school initiative, said Monday afternoon that Bush "has some concerns about the declining number of faith-based and parochial schools in inner cities around the country and low-income neighborhoods." Because of this, Gillespie said, Bush is ready to "urge Congress to enact a program he calls `Pell Grants for Kids.' "

The money would "provide alternatives for children now trapped in struggling public schools," Gillespie told reporters.
Right. Ask any educator currently working as a teacher in a public school if No Child Left Behind has been good for America's school children and you will discover how good Bush is at fixing what's wrong with our public schools.

Incidentally, does any one else wonder why didn't the Education Secretary make this announcement? Does the president always trot out lawyers because he has something to hide?

If you want to take a look at some more detail about my views on how to fix education, have a gander at this post, that post,,this other post, and how about searching my whole blog for the term education and see what comes up.

Just as an aside,do you think Bush would be in favor having a serious chunk of his "pell grants for kids" money going to some Islamic Private Education Organizations that start up? They would be faith-based, wouldn't they?


Crimson Wife said...

Lamar Alexander proposed a program with the same name back a few years ago. It would go to families who made below the median income in their state. So, for example, where I live in CA that would be <$74,800 for a family of 4. Sen. Alexander's PGFK would be $500 per child that could be used at any accredited school, whether it's government-run or private. It could also be used for approved independent study programs for homeschooled children.

The difference between a PGFK and a voucher is that it doesn't necessarily take money away from government-run schools. If a govt. school attracts PGFK students, there's a net *INCREASE* in funding for that school.

The details of Pres. Bush's plan remain to be seen, but I think Sen. Alexander's idea was a step in the right direction of providing true school choice to *ALL* parents in this country- not just wealthy ones!

windspike said...

Dear CW,

thanks for the comment. Lamar Alexander, unfortunately, ran a failed campaign for the presidency, but that doesn't mean his ideas were bankrupt. Perhaps that may even prove the exact opposite. That he may have had some perfectly good workable solutions.

It will be interesting to hear what W will suggest here. The assumption that Alexander's proposal c/would lead to an increase in public funding rests with the quaint notion that the different types of schools are playing on a level pitch. This indeed may do the opposite and set up what we see happening in capitalistic society all the time: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

How will the flow of money improve schools that need improving. You see, it's a Catch 22 where them that have get, and them that don't have won't ever get. Or do you see some magical solution that will convert the problem of our failing infrastructure where kids are attending school in buildings that are crumbling around them with such a fix?

Crimson Wife said...

What I would like to see is the conversion of traditional government-run schools to charters that are open to children from all over the area as opposed to just the ones living in a certain district. Right now, only affluent parents can afford housing in districts with decent schools. Low-to-moderate income families are stuck with ones that are mediocre at best and failing at worst.

I'd also like to see vouchers for low-to-moderate income families to attend private or parochial schools if they wish. Sweden's experience with vouchers has shown that the competition improved government-run schools there.

I'm not anti-government schools. I attended one myself and we only started homeschooling because we couldn't afford housing in a district with decent schools.

Anonymous said...

Do the math

crimson wife: The difference between a PGFK and a voucher is that it doesn't necessarily take money away from government-run schools. If a govt. school attracts PGFK students, there's a net *INCREASE* in funding for that school.

There's only a net increase in funding (when a PGFK student arrives at a public school) if the grant is greater than the cost of educating the student. If the grant is less than the cost of the education provided, the arrival of a PGFK student is a net loss.

windspike said...


The trouble is when the dollar amount of the voucher is not enough to cover the cost of getting said disadvantage youths across town to the other schools of which you speak. Busing has been in effect due to affirmative action for a long while. Is that working? Did you have to sit on a Muni bus from Visitacion Valley across town town for two hours to go to your public school?

This is a whole societal problem, not just a school and funding issue. Tossing money in the form of vouchers isn't going to help a single mom from the Bayview get her child at the bus stop in time to get picked up so she can make it to work...or worse, the child could get accidentally shot on the return trip.

The bigger issue is that great schools cost a great deal more than what the public is willing to lay out. Surprisingly, people, particularly in california are willing to pay more to build jails than they are to fix their schools. What's wrong with that picture?