A Case for School Choice
There is growing conflict over the nation's education policy. Indeed, this conflict remains one of the few areas of divergence between our converging two-party structure. Yet, as is so often the case with pressing concerns in American politics, any real proposals have been drowned under the Washington bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the nation can no longer ignore the ever-expanding education crisis plaguing the country, and Washington must consider school choice as a remedy for the ailing public school system.
The author of this article feels confident in asserting that the public school system in this nation is failing miserably in its attempt to prepare youth for competition in the twenty-first century. Half of the nation does not feel that a high school diploma is a guarantee of the recipient's basic skills in reading and math. In fact, the nation seemed to express little shock this fall when children in both New York and Washington returned to school - only without classrooms Recent studies of student achievement worldwide only accentuate the deplorable condition of the American education system and the need for some remedy.
School choice, though appearing on the political stage in a variety of manifestations, has essentially one major component. School choice proposals would provide federal and state grants to low- and middle-income families, allowing these families to send their children to a private or parochial school of their choice. In most programs, the private or parochial schools would, in turn, receive a tuition stipend from the state which is subsequently subtracted from the public school system's total budget.
While popular support for such voucher programs has not been overwhelmingly positive, several pilot programs have already emerged in several cities. Milwaukee and Cleveland, so far, have been the only cities to completely embrace such programs. Unfortunately, these programs remain in their formative stages, and are unable to offer any definitive evidence endorsing the concept.
Modern advocates of school choice have not failed to recognize the explicit success stories which have often been associated with both private and parochial schools. Regardless of location, socioeconomic status, or religious affiliation, such schools have repeatedly proven to be better educators of America's youth - children in such schools score higher on standardized tests and are more likely to attend college. Amazingly, these schools, especially Catholic schools, have achieved their success with noticeably smaller budgets. All of this evidence leads to the question: How have such schools achieved their substantial success?
Opinions concerning the reasons for such success commonly cite such abstractions as values and discipline. Even those citing a core curriculum or a nurturing environment fail to recognize the true reason why school choice programs will have...