As ThinkProgress has documented, a tightly-knit group of right-wing Political Action Committees (PACs) and corporate foundations have unleashed an assault on public education, pushing school voucher schemes nationwide that would funnell taxpayer dollars away from public schools and toward private schools instead. In doing so, many of these voucher advocates claim they simply want to expand school choice and improve the quality of education for all.
Yet one group that has been influential in the school voucher push — the Independence Hall Tea Party, which has run a major PAC that operates in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — is finally admitting that its true goal is to abolish public education.
In a series of e-mails and interviews, Teri Adams, the president of the Idependence Hall Tea Party Association, explains that her organization is involved in its voucher advocacy because it believes “public schools should go away.” Adams said that their ultimate goal is to “shut down public schools and have private schools only“:
“We think public schools should go away,’’ says Teri Adams, the head of the Independence Hall Tea Party and a leading advocate — both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania — of passage of school voucher bills. The tea party operates in those two states and Delaware. They should “go away,” she says, because “they are hurting our children.’’ […] Adams says the current voucher program “discriminates” against wealthier students by providing public subsidies only to inner-city children in allegedly failing schools. Her group’s e-mails pushing vouchers caught the attention of James Kovalcin of South Brunswick, a retired public school teacher who asked Adams for clarification. She responded via email: “Our ultimate goal is to shut down public schools and have private schools only, eventually returning responsibility for payment to parents and private charities. It’s going to happen piecemeal and not overnight. It took us years to get into this mess and it’s going to take years to get out of it.”
“It’s refreshing to see a vouchers promoter who is honest about her real intent — to destroy public education,” responded Julia Rubin, a spokeswoman for Save Our Schools, a New Jersey organization that is opposing the voucher push in the state. “Fortunately, most New Jersey residents understand how devastating vouchers would be for our excellent public schools.” (HT: @DianeRavitch)