I don't. Care. About. The. Teachers.
I don't dislike them. Nor do I like them. I don't care whether they are, or are not, represented by a union. I think they should be paid more, not because they're lovely, special people, but because I hope that would let us attract and retain a higher caliber of teacher.
I care about educating the kids. Once we have done that, we can turn to arguments about the teachers. Until then, paeans to what great people public school teachers are are just completely irrelevant. The janitors are probably great guys too, but the school is not there for their benefit. If it made the kids better off to fire them all tomorow, I'd happily sign the order to do so. I mean, I'd feel bad for them. But not enough to keep them employed at the expense of educating the kids.
Nor am I interested in vouchers because I'm trying to prove a point. If the public schools in inner cities were managing to educate more than a handful of the students, this would be somewhere on my list of priorities around "privatizing the post office". The existence of public schools qua public schools simply doesn't interest me. The only goal I am interested in discussing is educating the kids. Any other goals, people, or ideology attached to the school system are stunningly uninteresting until that primary purpose has been met.
Suburban parents exit the system for three very good reasons: one, the system is completely broken. Two, they don't have the faintest clue how to fix it--by which I mean, actually make any significant part of the system function normally. Three, it is not the job of the child to fix the system. It is our job to provide him an education. He should be expected to remain in the system only if the system can do that; otherwise, he has a right to get educated elsewhere while we try to fix it. And if we can't help everyone, then at least as many as possible should be so aided.
Now I'm done talking about vouchers. Either you agree that poor kids should be allowed to exit until the system works for them, or they don't. My model of voucher beliefs predicts that people will get angry at me when I challenge their beliefs without changing their minds, and indeed, they are right. And myself, I'm too angry on the subject to do much good. The people saying that they want details before they'll commit: look, obviously design matters. If you concede the right of exit, I'm happy to debate details. But until you do, it's a waste of time.