The end game is privatization…vouchers are one step

Jennifer Berkshire pointed Peter Greene to:

The election of Donald J. Trump as president offers the best opportunity in decades to shrink the size and power of government and increase individual liberty. 

So writes the Heartland Institute, a libertarian thinky tank, on a page devoted to all the Trumpian actions they approve of. This outfit was founded in 1984 by David H. Padden, a Chicago investor who had also been a director of the CATO Institute. They’ve advocated for fracking, stood up for tobacco companies, and advocate tireless for global warming denial. Plenty of related industries have been generous in supporting them, though they like to keep their money dark So, yeah– they’re Those Guys.

So it will come as no surprise that fifteen years ago they were laying out the program by which vouchers could be used to privatize education. Hat tip to Jennifer Berkshire, who turned up this article from Heartland’s website for February of 2002. As always, it’s interesting to see what some reformsters used to say back when they were just spitballing and not trying to spin.

Bast believed that we were at a tipping point, with vast support for vouchers poised to make them reality. As it turns out, his enthusiasm was overstated, a fact that he came to understand himself. Here he is quoted on the subject in a New York Times piece from just one year ago:

Complete privatization of schooling might be desirable, but this objective is politically impossible for the time being. Vouchers are a type of reform that is possible now…

And the NYT actually cut that quote short– the rest of the sentence is:

and would put us on the path to further privatization.

That quote goes back almost a decadeThe folks at Heartland are patient, and they have something now that they haven’t had for fifteen years– a Secretary of Education who has supported their group financially, and who is deeply in tune with their goals.

If you take nothing else from this piece, remember this– for many of the most ardent voucher supporters, school vouchers are not a destination, but just a stop-gap, something that will have to do until they can finally move on their real goal– the complete dismantling of public education in this country, replaced with a loose system of unaccountable, unregulated private schools. That fully privatized system, not a voucher system, is the goal. Keep your eye on the ball.