Letter to the editor: School vouchers are a scam that provide rebate for the rich


I write the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog and read the recent op-ed by Sen. John Braun on parents using public education dollars to choose their child’s education. Plain and simple, vouchers are a scam that is basically a rebate to better-off families and does not truly help students who are low-income.

First, on charter schools. It’s been 10 years and the number of charters allowed in the law never was fulfilled, not by half. Another charter school, this time in Pullman, is now being shut down. If charters are so great, why aren’t there more in Washington and why didn’t the Legislature expand the timeframe for approval? Because parents do tend to vote with their feet.

Next, Washington jumped slightly in private school enrollment but is mostly steady-state at 9%.

I lived in Seattle 30-plus years and now reside in Arizona where there is a universal voucher program. It is decimating the state budget. It was forced on voters by the Legislature even after voters had said no to vouchers in an initiative. Nearly 75% of people in the program were already enrolled in private schools. We have parents buying $1,000 Lego sets or $800 blenders in the name of “education.”

Private schools are heavily segregated, which isn’t good for kids.

Most parents in the United States who go private choose a religious school. Why should public dollars pay for religious training? Flies right in the face of the Constitution. Plus, I wonder what happens to support for vouchers when a satanic school or madrasa opens.

Private schools would be given public dollars to discriminate against federally protected classes of children like homeless and special education. Private schools have always had the ability to shape their enrollment and if they don’t want your child, they don’t have to accept your child. Then your “choice” becomes just the ability to submit an application.

Private schools would get public dollars, but would not have to serve the same children that public schools do. That will mean more higher-needs students left in public schools with fewer dollars. If private schools get public dollars, it’s not unreasonable to expect that they will serve all applicants within their enrollment ability.

Last, vouchers allow private schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students and their families. That is a bad use of public dollars.

Private schools can be whatever they want to be, but if they want public dollars, they need to change. They want public dollars? There needs to be public accountability. And that won’t happen. Better to work on bettering our existing public schools.

Last thing: despite McCleary, some districts are receiving fewer dollars than they should. This via a complicated formula. It may be the reason why the Marysville School District is being taken over by Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Legislature can and should do better.


Melissa Westbrook