For Mitt Romney, the love that dare not speak its name is "vouchers." Two weeks after he delivered a major address on education policy in which he never mentioned the V word, the New York Times detailed Romney's proposal to divert $25 billion in taxpayer dollars to religious, private and for-profit schools. But voters don't have to imagine what that plan, an old GOP twofer designed to subsidize Christian institutions while bludgeoning Democratic-friendly teachers unions, will do to American public education. As the frightening results in states like Louisiana, Indiana, Georgia and Arizona show, the Republican voucher dream is fast becoming America's nightmare present.
Governor Romney has been an advocate of so-called "school choice" since his first run for the White House. In 2007, Romney suggested American parents should not only be encouraged to abandon the public schools; they should be rewarded for it with a tax break for home schooling their kids:
"I also believe parents who are teaching their kids at home, homeschoolers, deserve a break, and I've asked for a tax credit to help parents in their homes with the cost of being an at-home teacher."
Now, as the Republican nominee outlined in a recent speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Romney wants to redirect $25 billion from two federal programs into a new voucher scheme. As the New York Times explained:
As president, Mr. Romney would seek to overhaul the federal government's largest programs for kindergarten through 12th grade into a voucherlike system. Students would be free to use $25 billion in federal money to attend any school they choose -- public, charter, online or private -- a system, he said, that would introduce marketplace dynamics into education to drive academic gains.
But as the experience in Indiana and Louisiana suggests, that system would instead introduce large quantities of public cash into the coffers of religious schools and academies whose educational credentials may be suspect at best.
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