Resurrection of the voucher issue is very troubling. Proponents call vouchers “the civil rights issue of our day,” but I suspect it’s a cover for families already sending their children to private and parochial schools to get a tax break.
Proponents for school choice pitch their arguments as a way for the poor and disabled to have the same choices the rich have in choosing the right school, to save students from “failing” schools. Due to the federal No Child Left Behind law, students in failing schools already have choice. When their school fails to make adequate yearly progress, they may transfer to any passing school in the district. My school received 70 students all of the sudden a week before school began, even though we are at full capacity and closed to transfers.
This law strains the passing schools by causing overcrowding and drains struggling schools of its most involved students and families, making it that much harder to pass the following year as standards rise.
The data supporting voucher schools is thin. Recently, Matthew Chingos of the Brookings Institute and Paul Peterson, a Harvard professor, advocated vouchers in the Wall Street Journal, pointing to a long-term study (1997-2011) that shows a higher percentage of students who accepted vouchers enrolled in college than those who applied but didn’t receive them, particularly among African American students
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