Are you ready for more protests? If school “choice” supporters get their wish, it just might happen. Why? After 30 years of school “choice,” that is what is happening in Chile. Supporters of school “choice” want you to believe that school vouchers “work” and promote Civil Rights. I wrote in the post Billionaires co-opt minority groups into campaign for education reform that the reality is just the opposite. Vouchers foment segregation and help the few at the expense of the many. Evidence? Our research team from the University of Texas at Austin recently discussed the failures of vouchers in the research literature on vouchers in the US and in Chile.
Considering the protests in Chile and a potential turn of events in the country against vouchers, we thought it was a good idea to travel to Chile to ask Chileans directly about their 30 years of experience with universal school choice (See Dear Cloaking Inequity Readers! Thank you!). We also recently published a peer reviewed paper on the segregation and ill effects of a universal vouchers system this summer in the journal of Educational Policy Analysis Archives. I profiled the paper in the post New Research: Vouchers Increase Segregation and Offer Benefits to the Few.
Wednesday, the Chilean police responded to ongoing student protests by tear gassing students protesting 3 decades of universal school choice that has CREATED inequality. Our UT voucher research team was caught in the middle of the police response to the students. Here are the email reports:
We have been in the middle of a student demonstration; got tear gas; were hidden by a business woman so we did not get wet with water cannons.
Students were occupying the Ministry of Education on Wednesday August 20 (we almost we didn’t get in to see our contact) and the protest today was relatively peaceful (the part we observed) but we all got tear gassed. Metro subway exits were blocked preventing us from getting to street level because of the protest.
We met with Mario Waissbluth (Chile’s Educacion 2020–Diane Ravitch has written about him), and went to an Interdisciplinary congress on education. The reality here is that vouchers will continue and even expand; for-profit education providers will be regulated, but still will receive vouchers. According to Waissbluth, US and Obama are closer to Chile’s right wing than the left wing.
There is no real paradigm shift from neoliberal market based policy, but there has been a need expressed for regulation. We’re including new questions in our research protocols to ask more information about how they want to make the “regulations” work.
This research was crowd funded by YOU— the Cloaking Inequity readers. It was not funded by Gates, Walton, NEA, AFT etc. Thank you for stepping up to the plate so that we can bring you the real life struggle and experiences of students, teachers, and other stockholders in an environment of universal school voucher “choice.”
In conclusion, we can learn from Chile’s 30 year experiment with vouchers, or we can find ourselves 3 decades from now discovering that the billionaires, EducationNext and RedefinEd had an agenda that work for the few at the expense of the many.
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We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own. César Chávez