Unit Five Teachers Union President Speaks Against School Vouchers

Feb 6, 2017

Unit Five Education Association President Karl Goeke said he doesn't think Normal West High School or other public schools in the twin cities would be greatly affected by vouchers, but he said that's not the case in many cities.
Credit Ralph Weisheit

A teacher’s union leader in central Illinois is concerned about charter schools and school vouchers. It is likely the U.S. Senate will vote this week on voucher proponent Betsy Devos as Education Secretary.

Unit Five Education Association President Karl Goeke said taking taxpayer money and making it available to private schools on a per student basis, hurts public schools.

One example is in Michigan, where Devos hails from.

"There are places where the public schools have to close because there is such low enrollment. The people that live there still need a public school. So, the students are travelling farther distances," said Goeke.

Goeke also questioned whether taxpayer money should be going to private schools where value is less assured and less regulated

"All public schools have licensed educators. When you take a voucher and go to say a for profit charter school, those schools are not bound by the same licensure provisions that we have here in Illinois and they don't have the same accountability," said Goeke

Goeke said both in Michigan and in other states in which charter schools have been prominent, they have yet to prove that they produce a better education than public schools.

State Senator Bill Brady has said vouchers make private schools more affordable for low income parents and families. Goeke said that might be true in principle, but often poor families have transportation barriers and end up staying at public schools which are required to offer transportation. Goeke noted as well that nothing prevents charter schools from closing, leaving kids and parents in the lurch.