Friday Freakout: School Choice is a Secret Republican Ruse - EdChoice
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  • Feb 07 2014

Friday Freakout: School Choice is a Secret Republican Ruse

Salon.com is known for posting anti-school choice pieces. This week, “Creationism, at taxpayer expense: Secrets of the GOP’s frightening new school voucher schemes” appeared in their headlines. Sadly, we weren’t surprised to see the comments section riddled with people repeating these “points”:

Republicans
Many school choice supporters have reacted defensively to this type of feedback, resorting to a tit-for-tat about whose political party or religion is worse. We understand it’s hard not to be defensive in the face of malicious claims, but we also hope all school choice supporters understand that such an approach only serves to hurt choicers’ credibility and distract from the main mission: helping kids.

Whether in the comments section or face to face, we suggest this approach:

1.  Correct the myth that Republicans own and are the sole supporters of school choice.

If school choice supporters are to be distrusted, one must distrust both Democrats and Republicans because this issue gets bipartisan support. What might you say to Democrat supporters like Joe Trippi, Joel Klein, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee? What might you say to celebrity supporters like Deion Sanders, Lisa Leslie, Jalen Rose, Lou Gossett, Jr., Vivica Fox, Stephen A. Smith, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Laila Ali, Garcelle Beauvais, and Theotis Beasley? Are they too out to “hurt ‘the poor’”?

2.  Ignore the snide stereotypes. Focus on factual errors and lack of evidence.

Actually, the largest tax-credit scholarship program in the country serves only children from families that qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. Half of all voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs in America have an income limit for eligibility and most others have requirements like special needs. More than 60 percent of all students choosing to use vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and ESAs in America come from very low-income families or have special needs, and that is a low estimate based on data from this report.

3.  Bring it home with stories of the families you know who have benefited from school choice programs, then ask the essential questions.

Ultimately, there are thousands of children who are thriving in their choice schools. Have you ever met any of them? Nathan is just one. Would you say school choice is a bad idea for him? Based on your assessment of school choice, do you think he has been used to make a profit? What would you tell his mother she should have done?

Navigating the landmines laid out by opponents who believe school choice is an evil, “get rich quick” scheme can be tricky. We hope you feel compelled to share these tips and use any of our helpful resources at edchoice.org to fight for school choice.

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