NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

No Excuse for Not Handing Out Vouchers to D.C. Pupils

December 10, 2002

With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling school-choice vouchers are constitutional and Republicans in control of the House and Senate, the Bush administration has an unprecedented opportunity to rescue children in the national capitol from its failing schools, education reformers argue.

Here are some of the arguments:

  • At present, the D.C. school system is among the very worst in the nation.
  • Keeping children, the overwhelming majority of whom are black, confined to it, represents the worst kind of racism -- and a campaign to free them to attend better schools should be seen as the one last civil-rights effort remaining to be won.
  • No parents in affluent D.C. neighborhoods send their children to D.C. schools and it is morally repugnant to continue to trap poor children in them, voucher proponents argue.
  • By creating a model school-choice program in Washington, the president would set off a chain reaction of voucher programs in other cities and quicken the pace of school reform in other cities across America.

School spending isn't the answer; nationwide it's five times greater in real terms than it was a half century ago. Efforts at improvement have failed because there is something wrong with the system as it now exists -- a dysfunctional system in which the merit of hard working educators goes unrewarded while incompetence and callousness are never punished.

Choice, and the competition it would bring, would force the city's public schools to shape up in the same way voucher programs in Milwaukee and Cleveland have led to improvements in public schools in those cities, advocates promise.

Source: Sol Stern (City Journal), "S.O.S. -- Save Our Schools," Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2002.


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