Another #fakenews story is being promoted by the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), Betsy DeVos’s personally founded and funded school privatization guerrilla organization in Michigan. The mother quoted here, Maria Salazar, has been writing a version of this article for Betsy-DeVos-funded organizations since at least 2013: this one, from the American Federation for Children–a DeVos voucher front group–introduces us to Maria’s daughter, who has seemingly been “rescued” from her public school through the generosity of Betsy DeVos herself…
The Corporate Tuition Tax Credit Scholarship program changed her life and gave her opportunities her single mother Maria could not have afforded on her own. Maria and Nydia immigrated to the U.S. from Peru when Nydia was a small child.
“When we arrived in the U.S. I told Nydia that if I work hard to support us and she works hard to learn in school, we would find the opportunities we came here for,” says Maria Salazar. “I was so relieved, excited and, most of all, grateful when I found out Nydia would have a scholarship to attend St. Mary’s. It was everything I promised Nydia all those years ago.”
Similar “news articles” from the past several years on Ms. Salazar’s adventures in voucher marketing can be found here and here, from 2013, and here, in 2014. In fact, promoting Betsy’s voucher plans seems to be something of a side job for Ms. Salazar.
Let’s interject a little bit of context here: The AZ voucher program is actually a set of 5 different programs, and they have collectively been a disaster for Arizona by virtually any measure.
Among the 5 options offered by the state are 4 “tax credit” choices, and an “ESA”, or education savings account option. The average value of three of the “tax credit” vouchers available under this plan, the most popular choices, is between $1300-$1800 per year. The other tax credit option, available only to students with special needs, provides around $4000 per year.
The school Ms. Salazar’s daughter attended, a Catholic high school, costs over $14,000 per year for tuition alone.
As is the case in every state in which vouchers are available, AZ’s vouchers don’t provide nearly enough money to allow Ms. Salazar’s daughter to attend St. Mary’s High School. These vouchers merely provide a relatively negligible number of taxpayer provided dollars to subsidize her daughter’s attendance, at a religious school, while siphoning much needed tax revenues from the public school she was attending.
Far from being a way to “level the education playing field,” or a mechanism to insure “that children’s ZIP codes should not confine them to failing schools,” vouchers are nothing more than a political tool to redistribute public school dollars to private and religious schools.
What I find truly fascinating about all of this is that all that GLEP seems able to do is recycle stories from the 2 or 3 families that Betsy DeVos’ voucher front-groups have been circulating over the last 3 years. Considering the millions that the DeVos family is paying GLEP, they really aren’t getting a very good return on their investment.
And the bottom line on vouchers remains the same: they typically don’t help anyone attend a school they weren’t already attending, they don’t provide enough money to cover tuition and fees at many private or religious schools, and they aren’t about providing “equity,” as the biggest result of vouchers is more segregated schools.
Vouchers are wrong for Arizona, and wrong for our country.
Betsy DeVos is wrong for Michigan, and wrong for Secretary of Education.