Exclusive: Students Tear Gassed By Police While Protesting School Inequality


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.
Here are a few Youtube videos of the students protesting vouchers and the privatization of education. They are followed by photos of the tear gas and riot police attacks on the students…

UT research team photos of the police response to the peaceful student protest and the aftermath:
IMG_3753 IMG_3738 2014-08-21 13.46.52
2014-08-21 13.40.25 2014-08-19 16.15.55
Are you looking forward to vouchers’ segregative effects? Their further stratification of society as observed in Chile? Are you ready for students being tear gassed by police year after year protesting the inequality? That is the Chilean experience with vouchers after 30 years.
Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 9.23.25 AM Here is a quick update on the research:
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.

More soon.

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.

For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on vouchers click here and charters here.

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Twitter: @ProfessorJVH

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Please blame the Chilean Police for any typos.

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

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Categories: Vouchers

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

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4 Comments on “Exclusive: Students Tear Gassed By Police While Protesting School Inequality”

  1. August 23, 2014 at 3:59 am #

    These revelations are but one more dire warning where privatization: vouchers and charter schools create concern, even a sense of a moral dilemma, for me. One of the dilemmas is that I’m working with a benefactor, living in Chile, who believes in privatization, and as I understand it, the voucher program in Chile! A well meaning benefactor who wants to do good on behalf of youth from poor and inner city circumstances in California through environmental outdoor education programs. A huge divide now seems to exist between wealthy philanthropists and public education advocates and those of us working with programs funded by them. We are caught in the middle of this politically created meme.


  1. Educational Policy Information - August 22, 2014

    […] By Julian Vasquez Heilig Are you ready for more protests and Furguson-style draconian police responses? 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 […] Read the full article […]

  2. Universal School “Choice”: Schools Ultimately Do the Choosing | Cloaking Inequity - September 19, 2014

    […] I have a question for you… Can you use your finger and identify Chile on a map? I only ask because there are lots of ideas and theories in the US educational policy discourse about schools choice and what would happen if we had a universal school “choice” market. Well, we don’t actually have to imagine or theorize what a universal school choice market would look like. All we have to do is put our finger on Chile— it has been happening there for the past few decades since a dictator prioritized “choice” to reduce the government’s role in education funding. The universal school “choice” market has actually enhanced segregation and inequality instead of remedying it (See New Research: Vouchers Increase Segregation and Offer Benefits to the Few). As you might remember, we asked you the readers of Cloaking Inequity to support a student led research trip to Chile to get a better picture of the reforms that have been rumored to the Chilean privatization of education (See Sponsor a Student!: Inform Your Policymaker Why Vouchers Have Failed). To my knowledge, mainstream US media haven’t discussed the reforms being contemplated in Chile to the universal school “choice” system and the reasons for them. While the team was on the ground in Chile, this happened: Exclusive: Students Tear Gassed By Police While Protesting School “Choice” […]

  3. Will Market-Based Education Produce More or Less Student Uprising? | Cloaking Inequity - May 3, 2015

    […] In the post, Exclusive: Students Tear Gassed By Police While Protesting School Inequality I asked […]

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