Public schools are the great equalizer, levelling the socio-economic playing field and grooming the next generation of doctors, artists, scientists, and yes, even humor columnists who spend their days making snarky comments about South Dakota’s stealth voucher program. But, for those who dabble in the fine art of wealth redistribution, public schools are a bit… public.
Cue the inception of South Dakota’s stealth voucher program, an ingenious little scheme cooked up to launders public tax dollars through tax rebates to insurers who hand out scholarships to private schools. Now, you might be thinking that this sounds like an excellent opportunity for underprivileged children to receive a quality education, but hold on to your rainbows and unicorns for a second.
When Arizona kicked off its universal voucher program, open to everyone (yes, even little Timmy from the corner mansion), 78% of the participating children were already not enrolled in public schools. Kind of like entering a lottery that you’ve already won. Life’s good when rich Uncle Bob, who already sends his kids to posh private schools, gets to dip into your hard-earned tax dollars to continue doing so.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if Republicans could apply the same logic they do to the issue of abortion, to private schools? You could have your choice, sure, but public funding wouldn’t contribute to your private endeavors. Suddenly, it doesn’t sound so appealing now, does it?
Let’s see if this comparison helps. Public schools are like snowplows. You’re free to buy your own personal snowplow, spending your days in winter wonderland bliss, plowing your driveway and even creating a path to the county oil. But once you’ve made that choice, you don’t get to say no to chipping in for the city and county plows that ensure everyone else isn’t trapped in their homes like Jack Torrance from The Shining.
We can’t have it both ways. You can’t buy a snowplow, benefit from the rebate, and then demand that the public snowplow also keeps your driveway clear. It’s a bit like buying a pet tiger and then asking the local zoo to feed and look after it.
To wrap it up, South Dakota’s stealth voucher program isn’t quite the golden ticket to an equitable education system it’s portrayed to be. Instead, it’s distributing a little extra pocket change to our well-off friends, courtesy of your tax dollars. But hey, if you’re onboard with that, I’ve got a great bridge to sell you.