Flashback – Elizabeth Warren Championed School Vouchers: ‘Takes Pressure off Parents, Produces Results’

Elizabeth Warren
Screenshot/Fox Business

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed to end school vouchers in her public education plan released Monday despite praising them in the past for helping “take the pressure off parents” and encouraging competition.

Warren released her extensive plan on the public education system in America on Monday, which offered a swath of pledges, from protecting illegal immigrant families to promising an additional $450 billion in Title I funding over the next decade.

One of the most significant aspects of the presidential hopeful’s proposal, however, is her call to end school vouchers. Warren argues that the voucher system leaves minority students behind and called to end federal funding for new charter schools.

Vouchers (or school choice), Warren asserts, hurt minorities and result in school segregation and discrimination. She harkened to her housing plan, which gives states funds to build desirable parks and schools “if they eliminate the kinds of restrictive zoning laws that can further racial segregation”

“And it includes a historic new down payment assistance program that promotes integration by giving residents of formerly redlined areas help to buy a home in any community they choose,” Warren says.

However, Warren’s pitch stands in stark contrast to the solution she offered in years past. During an interview with Fox Business in May 2011, Warren praised vouchers, essentially arguing that they helped solve the problem that she explicitly outlined in the plan released Monday.

She said that school vouchers alleviated pressure from parents and essentially fostered an environment of competition “that really produces results and parents can buy into and believe in.”

Warren said (emphasis added):

The point is, we have a private school system now, only the way it’s doled out is instead of paying tuition, you buy a house in a certain zip code and pay taxes and keep everyone locked out who’s not in that zip code. We call those public schools. But look at the financing for them. If every child in the state of Massachusetts — every child in this country — got a ticket, and the ticket was funded by taxpayers, because I believe in public education, but it could be used at any school regardless of what kind of house parents can afford to buy, it would first take the pressure off parents in terms of having to buy those houses, and second would mean that those schools now compete with each other for offering the kind of education that really produces results and parents can buy into and believe in.

Warren previewed that position years before in her 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap.

“But the public-versus-private competition misses the central point. The problem is not vouchers; the problem is parental choice,” Warren wrote — a line that stands in stark contrast to her current plan to take away parental choice by ending vouchers.

“Under current voucher schemes, children who do not use the vouchers are still assigned to public schools based on their zip codes. This means that in the overwhelming majority of cases, a bureaucrat picks the child’s school, not a parent,” she continued, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Warren carried that position into her 2012 senatorial campaign, even publicly supporting charter schools.

“Warren holds some positions on education that challenge union orthodoxy. For instance, she favors charter schools and the use of student test scores as a factor in evaluating teachers, as long as teachers help craft the evaluations,” the Boston Globe reported in March 2012.

The presidential hopeful’s plan on Monday, though, laments the existence of vouchers and charter schools.

“We have a responsibility to provide great neighborhood schools for every student. We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits – which are vouchers by another name,” she wrote, adding that we must “fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools.”

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