Focus Point - Thinking Big On Vouchers

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Some pundits warn George W. Bush that pushing school choice will cost him bipartisan support. But I was intruiged by an argument put forth recently by Matthew Miller of The Manhattan Institute, namely, that Bush's voucher plan isn't bold enough.

Bush says if bad schools don't improve on state tests three years in a row, parents should get their $1,500 in federal money to use as they wish.

But Miller argues that's not enough. For example, in Los Angeles it would take a $6,000 voucher to make a difference. If the voucher is too small, entrepreneurs won't invest in new school startups.

Because the vouchers are limited, Miller says, teachers' unions assume they can squash them in the future, and minority leaders won't split ranks with union allies to back the plan. His argument may make sense: By starting small, are we telling 10 million kids in bad schools to wait 20 years until we get our program up and running?

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.

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