Blog: The Educated Reporter

Backdoor vouchers, and covering privates.

The Supreme Court is going to address whether Arizona tuition tax credits—a more politically palatable alternative to school vouchers—advance religion. I am more interested in whether the program has been a scam that promised to open private school doors to poor children but really just made them cheaper for the middle-class and affluent families already attending (as the East Valley Tribune explored in-depth last year, a project I sadly cannot find on their website at the moment).

Which, by the way, brings me to an overdue public service announcement about how important it is that journalists cover private schools as well as public ones. It is a huge reporting challenge, press releases and 990s being no match for the data available on our public institutions. Private schools tend to be covered when there is an SAT cheating scandal or … what? We definitely do not help people understand what the teaching and learning in private and parochial schools look like, even though that is something a lot of parents (including three who asked me about it just this weekend) want to know. Private schools are pretty reflexive about denying access when something bad happens—which seems to be the main time journalists are interested in visiting. But what about just to see what happens in classrooms?