Catalyst January/February Issue 1999

On December 8, activists on behalf of public education met in Milwaukee to outline a 12-point action plan to protect public schools from the threat of the Milwaukee voucher program. Led by People for the American Way and the NAACP, the activists charged that private and religious schools that receive funds from the Milwaukee voucher program should be held to the same “high” standards of accountability and public reporting as the public schools.

The Catholic League made its objections public with the following statement:

“The sight of People for the American Way and the NAACP coming together to oppose choice in education for the very minorities whom they claim to represent is striking. It was not enough for them to try to rescue the collapse of the public school system in the inner cities, no, they had to establish an agenda to destroy private and religious schools as well. Make no mistake about it, the demand for ‘public reporting’ of such schools is designed to destroy the autonomy—and therefore the success—of private and religious schools. This is an example of statism at its worst.

“Perhaps the most spectacular hypocrisy of all was the venue of the lobbying: Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Now just think what these militants for strict separation of church and state would say if a pro-voucher workshop were held at a Catholic church? We will be sure to let the IRS know of this transgression.

“The idea that private and religious schools should be held to the same standards of accountability as public schools is laughable given the embarrassing track record of the public schools. Do these activists propose that private and religious schools descend to the level of the public schools? Is that what they mean by equality? What these lobbyists have proven is that they are the genuine source of downward mobility in America today. They just don’t get it.”

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Written by Bill