The voucher movement has been dealt some serious set-backs in recent months. In July, a study by the Department of Education found that public school students outperform their private school peers – undercutting the right-wing’s basic argument that private schools are better. In August, a similar study found that public school students also learn more than students in charter schools. Last month, a survey released by Gallup and the non-partisan education organization Phi Delta Kappa found that public support for vouchers is in a free-fall. A poll of Indiana residents by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy came up with similar results. And recently major fractures have occurred between different factions of the Right over the proposed national voucher program and the Bush administration’s implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.
All this may have proven to be too much for one of the privatization movement’s biggest stars. An Arizona paper announced yesterday that Clint Bolick, president and general counsel for the pro-voucher Alliance for School Choice has taken a position with a Scottsdale law firm. In recent years, Bolick has committed himself to fighting against public education, he first rose to prominence a crusader against affirmative action as a disciple of Clarence Thomas. He was co-founder of the right-wing legal group called the Institute for Justice and a prominent player in the conservative libertarian community.
This news may not indicate Bolick’s outright surrender in the Voucher Wars, but could it be the beginning of a strategic retreat and reorganization at the highest levels of the right-wing coalition against public education?