At the end of Michael Bloomberg’s weekly radio show with John Gambling on 77 WABC this morning, the mayor was asked why the city doesn’t offer tax breaks or vouchers to parents who send their kids to private school.
Robert George thought the pro-business, public school-reforming mayor might have been “moving perilously close to the land of vouchers” last year. But they never materialized. Recently, noted education expert Sol Stern reversed his support for them, causing a bit of a stir, and indicating the possibility that the prevailing wisdom on vouchers is changing.
So, why don’t we have vouchers New York?
On the radio, Bloomberg did not state his personal preference. Instead he offered this explanation:
“I think the basic answer to your question, why we don’t have vouchers, is politically, it is not popular,” he said. “Even if you think it is a great idea it would not get through the Legislature. The State Legislature would have to pass it. It is also–there is a question as to whether or not it is a good idea. It diverts money from the public schools, and some people say that it would just go to people who could afford to send their kids to private schools, anyway.”
He went on to say, “From a fairness point of view, you can certainly make the case that, you know, if you send your kids to private schools, the public doesn’t have to pay to educate them, and you should get a credit for it. Politically, it is just not going to happen in this state, is a fair ways to phrase it.”