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From Public Schools to Charter Schools to School Vouchers, Varel Cartoon

school vouchers varel

Gary Varel is not only a loud voice for School Vouchers, but is most well known as the political cartoonist for the most rabid wing of the Pro Life movement.

The object of the Religious Right has always been the destruction of public education. Their formula has not changed in a generation. From Public Schools to Charter Schools to Vouchers. We see it now filling the headlines of our newspapers. Charter School this and Charter School that. Pay attention as to WHO is behind it. You will find that it is hard Right Evangelical Christians. They have a big foot in that door in the African American communities.

School boards and state legislatures are jacking it up, primarily with laws to increase the amount of charter schools and the amount of money we take out of public education to fund them. Charter Schools where there are few rules, no unions, few teacher requirements and an open curriculum. Study after study for 20 years and counting has shown no difference in outcome between charter schools and public schools. In fact many people running charter schools are in jail.

As the Religious Right loses political power, this is now their ace in the hole.  The object is to get control of our education system to create a new army of intolerant twats whose primary purpose is to teach children that women who choose to have abortions and their doctors and nurses are murderers and that Gays and Lesbians are lesser people deserving less rights than the the rest of us. And of course teaching the lie of evolution, the hoax of global warming and how you should kill your children if you hear voices telling you to. The Abraham/Andrea Yates Bible lesson.

The process has been going on for a generation. In fact to make that point, here is an article I wrote about 20 years ago. Little has changed since 1994.

School Vouchers – Idea From Hell

“Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” Mark Twain

Everyone had best think this voucher business out slowly and surely before jumping onto the bandwagon, for not only will it destroy the public education system in this country, send hundreds of billions of dollars into the coffers of the Religious Right, but will facilitate the indoctrination of millions of our children into a belief system based upon anti-science, dogma, bigotry, intolerance and curtailment of the creative process. It will not only change the basis of our society, but will end America’s reign as the world leader in the promotion of science, freedom and liberty.

Issue 1 – We must lay to rest the false premise that the public school system has failed, has been destroyed and is so broken beyond repair that the baby must be thrown out with the bath water. In reality, most schools are doing fine as are most students. The problems are more societal than they are educational; and reform, not destruction, is the obvious way to lead ourselves out of it. The problems are mostly confined to inner city and rural areas where money is short because the primary funding of education comes from local property taxes giving the richer districts the most money to spend. Here we must also put to rest another false premise; that spending money on education does not improve it. This is one of the premier lies of conservatives that spending money on things does not help (so let’s reduce the military budget by 90%). Infrastructure, teaching aids, computers, smaller class size and well-paid teachers do indeed improve education.

Issue 2 – We must come to terms with what exactly the problem is. Conservatives will always put the blame on the NEA, after all, not only is it a union, but it often lobbies for causes regarding fairness, tolerance and equality, all aspects of what conservatives see as the road to Marxist Hell. After blaming teachers they put the onus on parents and then various forms of media and entertainment. Holding our kids responsible seldom enters into it. The truth is that the sorry attitudes of so many of our young people are brought about by a generation of conservatives commanding the national debate. Telling them they should all have at least one big handgun to carry around or be considered a little wussy, that nothing matters but their wallets, and a fast mouth, and the entrepreneurial spirit is more important than a higher education. This is streamed across America everyday on the EIB Network where Rush Limbaugh, who takes pride in flunking out of college, saying he is the smartest man in the known universe and constantly suggests that higher education is for socialist dumbbells. A lot of kids may not be able to read or write very well, but they are smart enough to get that message; get a big gun, care about nothing but yourself, move a fast mouth and the world is your oyster. The moral problem today is not about condoms, sex education, abortion, evolution, or teaching tolerance of gay men and women, it is this raw callous selfish disregard that is the centerpiece of the conservative ideology.

Issue 3 – We must separate the issues of public school choice and private school vouchers. The former is a reasonable idea and is being tested as magnet and charter schools all over the country. Some are successful and some are not, but most results so far show little change in academic proficiency. Most Americans have little problem with public school choice and it may be a good option of reform if busing is not a concern to them. But there is a fly in this ointment as well. The Religious Right is pushing charter schools to use as the jumping off point to hopefully destroy public education in lieu of religious indoctrination centers.

ssue 4 – We must define what exactly private school vouchers are. Let us use California as the test case as it presented itself on referendum as Proposition 174 a few years back. Every parent gets a voucher from the State in the amount of $2600 for each child in K-12. The average yearly cost of a secular private school in California is $10,000 while religious schools average $3000. This discrepancy is based on the quality of teachers, infrastructure, and the fact that religious schools are subsidized by the local, national and international fund raising pools of churches and various denominations. It is obvious that the haves will be subsidized by tax money to take advantage of good quality schools while the have-nots will be forced to either use what is left of the public system or send their children to below standard religious indoctrination centers. This is not to mention a voucher system will further increase segregation.

 Issue 5 – We must look at the constitutional question. The vast majority of existing private schools are religious in nature, mostly Catholic or Evangelical, and they will be cheap and far ahead of secular private schools regarding recruitment and availability, which most parents will be forced to use because of economic reality. Literally billions of dollars in tax money going to support the religious indoctrination of millions of children. A lot of that tax money will also end up in the coffers of various political arms of the Religious Right to fund more of their intolerant referendums and to buy more ammo to shoot more doctors in the back. The question is whether this is possible under the separation clause of the First Amendment or will the constitution have to be amended.

Issue 6 – We must make sure everyone knows exactly who is pushing private school vouchers. The main player is the Christian Coalition, the political arm of the Religious Right organized and controlled by Pat Robertson. C-SPAN aired a convention of theirs I happened to watch back in 1996. The speakers were in order; Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, Jesse Helms, Phil Gramm and Bob Dole. I missed the Dole speech because the previous speakers made me so sick to my stomach I was stuck in the toilet throwing up for an hour. All four speakers I watched had at their central issue the replacement of public schools with a system of private religious schools. The issue of abortion was suspiciously absent (after all, they pretty much have that all figured out, shoot doctors who perform abortions until they all run away), in lieu of this new idea, which they are putting all their cards in. The words condom, sex education, liberal socialism and Planned Parenthood rang through every speech ad nauseam. In fact two of them quoted the same Bible passage from Psalms about President Clinton to the affect that we should all rejoice because the leader shall soon be dead, all to the foot stomping applause of the Christian audience. Which is just what they want schools to instill in ALL our children. Before watching these speakers I had not fully realized the depth of their hate or the seriousness of their message regarding religious control of the government, Senator Gramm being by far the most despicable of the bunch.

Another group pushing private school vouchers is Empower America, whose cofounders, Jack Kemp and William Bennett are beating the same drum on the same bandwagon. Kemp has somehow come to be thought of as a moderate Republican, which he most certainly is not. He presided over HUD under Reagan who cut the department by over 50%. Then they both stood dumbfounded wondering why suddenly there were so many of those damn homeless people lying around in the streets.

 The second of the cofounders is Bill Bennett (Rush Limbaugh’s best friend) who, as the data shows, was a complete failure not only as Drug Czar but as Secretary of Education as well. Now these are a couple guys who know what’s going on in education and housing and have real compassion for the least of us. What these guys are really after is the privatization of not only education but everything they can get their hands on, you name it. The intent is to make the entire moral ideology of this nation dependent upon max profit subsidized by doubtful deities prancing around in the netherworld.

Another dead giveaway as to what this is about and who is behind it is who the top individual contributor backing Proposition 174 was. His name is Howard Ahmanson, an evangelical Episcopalian who has donated $400,000 to the cause of voucherism. I quote from Ahmanson, “My purpose is the total integration of Biblical law into our lives.”

Issue 7 – We must look to the voucher systems in place at present. In both Milwaukee and Cleveland it encompasses a few thousand inner city children. The results show that there is no difference in math scores between public and private students, a drop in reading skills in the voucher students, and some of the schools are going under leaving students stranded without any school to go to at all.

Conclusion – We must understand these voucher plans have little to do upon improving education, but rather to further segregation and to indoctrinate millions of children into narrow minded Republicans for the voting booths of tomorrow. Do not let this happen, it is the most serious issue we face in this country today.