Thursday, December 1, 2022

Emphatically, Douglas Co., Colo., condemns vouchers


After yesterday’s election for the school board in 2-to-1 Republican Douglas County, Colorado, Fox News reports that an anti-voucher agenda is likely to follow. We agree and happily report that teacher-backed candidates ousted pro-voucher incumbents in what was one of the most heavily funded school board elections in the nation’s history.

The Denver Post also corroborated the report, and the paper provided its usual thorough coverage of the issues that were at play in this election.

All the winners ran on an anti-voucher platform:

  • Krista Holtzmann
  • Kevin Leung
  • Anthony Graziano
  • Chris Schor

“It is time to return our attention locally—to the students, teachers, and community of all Douglas County public schools—while restoring our attention locally,” the Post quoted Mr Graziano as saying. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members in a collaborative and transparent manner …”

A ton of money poured into the race on both sides: from the likes of billionaires for the incumbent pro-voucher board members, and from the likes of teachers for the pro-student, pro-community challengers.

Back in 2011, the district enacted a voucher program that is still in court. The program sends tax dollars to private schools, many of which are religious. In 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the vouchers violated the state’s law on tax dollars going to religious groups.

Then in July, the Supreme Court vacated that ruling and ordered the state Supreme Court to reconsider it in light of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc v Comer ruling. That was the Missouri case that involved state officials wrongly denying Trinity Lutheran a grant to reimburse the cost of repaving its preschool playground “simply because of what it is—a church.”

The question will become moot if the school board does away with the voucher programs, and, as Fox News reported, that is what we might expect to happen here.

I’m happy the election came out the way it did, and my main reason for being happy about it involves the money. Although money from billionaires is just as green as that from a teachers’ union, at least I know that the teachers’ union raised its money from fees it collected from real teachers, you know, the people who have a vested interest in our students being successful in whatever their chosen life path may be.

Billionaires, companies, think tanks, and similar groups say they have our children’s best interest at heart as well. But that’s meant to be an interest in kids pursuing a life path that corresponds to those billionaires’ own worldview.

When it comes to schools and students, billionaires put all their effort into how they should spend money: what board candidates to support, what technology platform to promote, which idiots will pass laws and enact policies that let their companies get their hands on my tax dollars without accountability, and things like that.

Teachers’ unions, while just as concerned about money as the billionaires, put all their effort into how they should collect money: how to charge teachers fees, how to organize a national effort and recruit people, what laws need to be passed to enable collection of those fees.

It seems to me that how the teachers’ union uses money is much more in line with the educational mission of our schools, especially the public schools (and Douglas County is a public school system), than how the billionaires use money can ever be.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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