I posted earlier this week that I didn’t quite get a comment Georgia school chief John Barge made about vouchers at a Georgia Association of Educators’ panel Monday. He said private and public schools have to first be on an even playing field, which couldn’t happen until public schools are able to tell more people “no.”
In response to my post, I received a copy of the 2010 Education Coalition guide to Georgia candidates where Barge expanded on that theme. I still don’t get how public schools could ever pick and choose and turn away students in view of the constitutional mandate they are under to educate all children. I am certain many schools and teachers would cheer Barge’s comments, but I am not sure if his scenario is remotely possible under the law.
And that may be his intent: Barge pretty much dodges any future voucher debate if he says he’ll only consider vouchers if public schools get to pick their kids. (And if the public-school-choosing-their students part doesn’t doom Barge’s idea, his desire to have private schools face the same regulations as their public counterparts pretty much decimates it. Most private schools will not go for that.)
Here is what Barge said there about vouchers:
We cannot give tax money to private school families if we are not willing to even the playing field. This means that we have to give public schools the right to choose their students. We have to give public schools the right to refuse students. We have to make private schools live with the same regulations as public schools. Only then should we even consider the idea of a pure voucher for parents.
–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog