Privatizers are sending out mailers intended to trick public school supporters into backing vouchers.
Their direct mail pieces claim that Education Savings Accounts (their fancy name for vouchers) “provide families freedom” and “provide teachers flexibility to foster and nurture students.” Both claims are patently false. ESAs are designed to benefit private schools, not students.
Here are the facts:
• Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) are vouchers that take public tax dollars intended for public schools, where 90 percent of Mississippi children are educated, and send them to private academies
• Voucher/ESA academies pick and choose which students they want to accept and reject those they don’t want
• Nearly 40 percent of Mississippi students who were assigned ESA vouchers in 2016-2017 were unable to use them; some parents report that no private school would accept their child
• More than a third of the funds appropriated for ESA vouchers has been left unspent in each year the program has existed
• The ESA law requires that a student attend private school to receive the ESA voucher; the law prohibits home school students and public school students from receiving ESAs (so much for “customizing” education, another misleading claim from privatizers)
Meanwhile, public schools, that educate every child, are underfunded to the tune of $213-million this year (and we are hearing that the leadership plans to strip the adequate funding obligation from state law – watch your inbox for more on that!). When we don’t adequately fund public schools, it’s ludicrous to suggest spending tax dollars on private schools that have no intention of educating all of our children.
Research tells us:
• Public school students outperform private voucher school students
• Voucher schools exclude low-income students by charging tuition and fees beyond what the vouchers cover
• Voucher schools are shielded from public oversight and unaccountable to taxpayers
Make sure your legislators know the facts about vouchers – and that our dwindling public resources must be invested in ways that benefit the common good for all Mississippians.
As we celebrate this holy holiday season, I am reminded of the incredible potential embodied in a child, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the tenacity of the thousands of you who call and text and email and post – over and over and over – to ensure that each child in Mississippi is provided quality public schools. It is a privilege to stand with you in that endeavor.
Blessings and peace,