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Voucher Left

Berkeley liberals and the roots of ESAs

This is the second post in our series on the Voucher Left. Way back in 1978, when Bee Gees ruled the radio and kids dumped pinball for Space Invaders, a couple of liberal Berkeley law professors were promoting a variation on “universal” school vouchers that they believed would ensure equity for the poor. Along the way, they foreshadowed a revolutionary twist on parental choice that would make national headlines nearly four decades later. John E. “Jack” Coons and Stephen Sugarman didn’t use the term “education savings accounts” in their book, “Education by Choice.” But they described a sweeping plan for publicly...

A school choice manifesto, from the left

This is the first post in our series on the Voucher Left. It starts by condemning America for failing to provide equal opportunity in education. It ends with a knock on the war in Vietnam. Inbetween, it offers a template for a $15-billion-a-year national voucher plan that “will frankly discriminate in favor of poor children.” Published in 1968, "A Proposal for a Poor Childrens Bill of Rights" is a historical gem – a seminal document of Voucher Left history that remains curiously buried. It was co-written by Theodore “Ted” Sizer. Then dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Sizer would become so...

Meet the Voucher Left

By critics, by media, and even by many supporters, it’s taken as fact: School choice is politically conservative. It’s Milton Friedman and free markets, Republicans and privatization. Right wing historically. Right wing philosophically. Critics repeat it relentlessly. Conservatives repeat it proudly. Reporters repeat it without question. It has been repeated so long it threatens to replace the truth. The roots of school choice in America run all along the political spectrum. And to borrow a term progressives might appreciate, the inconvenient truth is school choice has deep roots on the left. Throughout the African-American experience and the epic struggles for educational opportunity. In...