Re: the right to purse excellence
Thu, 1 May 1997 00:14:03 -0400 (EDT)

Given the current state of funding for public and private schooling in this
country, that sad state of affairs is bound to continue. The fallacy lies in
assigning the responsibility for it to the private schoolers. If vouchers
were allowed, so that everyone could afford what we now call "private
schools", then the problem would be solved. In this way, all schools would
become (or could become) "public schools", since they would be funded
publically. Yes, I know that there would be details to be ironed out, such
as religious schools, etc., but I do believe that they can be worked out.

In fact, when I first got into education, in the late-1960's, vouchers were a
"liberal" idea, floated to counteract the bureaucratic, oppressive public
schools. Somehow, during the '80's, they became a conservative wedge issue.
What happened? How did I lose control? Was I in the bathroom at the

Anyway, my idea is this, figure out the dollar figure that the state spends
per pupil on education. Weight it for special needs kids. Give each child a
voucher for the amount they are due. This voucher would then be good for one
education at any school. The stipulations would be that the school would
have to be non-discriminatory, meet basic health and safety standards, and
would have to agree to accept the voucher as full tuition. In this way, the
rich couldn't just use the voucher to make their tuitions lower at fancy
schools that charge way more. They could still have these schools, they just
couldn't participate in the voucher plan. I might even be persuaded to agree
to some kind of inspection by an accreditation committee, so long as it was
done in the way that, for instance, the PA Association of Private Academic
Schools does it: they ask the school to submit a detailed statement of what
their philosophy and practice is. They then measure the school against that
standard, not one of the committee's choosing.

Any takers?