Re: the right to purse excellence

Cathy Pauline Lachapelle (aelin@leland.Stanford.EDU)
Wed, 30 Apr 1997 23:26:45 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 1 May 1997, SwiftRain wrote:

> wrote:
> >
> [snip]
> > Any takers?
> My thoughts on vouchers: yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Vouchers make a lot of sense in a very straightforward way. Finally,
money can be distributed more fairly, and people can choose the *good*
schools for their kids. These are very good reasons for having vouchers.
I, for one, have found nearly no public schools at all that satisfy my
vision of what is good and right for a child's education.

And yet, I have a few niggling doubts which nonetheless worry me:

--What about poor kids living in the middle of cities -- how will they get
to good schools, if their parents can't get them there?

--What about places where the schools are in bad condition, or have some
other reason they can't attract students? Will they rot away because no
one has money to invest in them? How could a school with failing systems
and poor materials keep up and catch up with schools that start out better
off? What about the kids (probably poor local kids) who get stuck going
to these dying schools?

--What about our tendency as people to be insular? Will we end up with
White schools, Black schools, rich-kid schools, poor-kid schools,
Christian schools, Muslim schools, (...)? How are we as a people going to
deal with learning to live together if we don't see each other in schools?
After all, we begin to see this problem already in cities that have
neighborhood-school systems (not to say that bussing was any better).

Now, I know these are generally high-flung questions, but if we talk about
voucher-ifying the schools, that could (in fact we want it to!) change the
face of American education. And I want to think about these questions,
and think: how important are these problems? How do we deal with them
if they do become problems? How can we prevent them becoming
problems? before jumping into any new system.

After all, vouchers have not yet been approved for use in most places
where they've been proposed, and I think there's deeper reasons than just
that the teacher unions have lots of clout. There's some undercurrent of
American culture that is worried by it, I think... Perhaps Americans have
so long considered the public schools a communal system that it is
offensive to think of letting them get worked out on a grand scale by a
market system... (?)

--Cathy (new to this list: hello!)