Re: the right to purse excellence

Scott David Gray (
Thu, 1 May 1997 18:04:37 -0400 (EDT)

On Thu, 1 May 1997, SwiftRain wrote:

> IMO vouchers would not have a substantial effect upon SVS itself.
> The parents of SVS students are already undergoing an economic burden to
> place them there, and I suspect most would continue to.

I wasn't suggesting that a temptation to use vouchers would cause parents
to remove their kids from SVS... I was suggesting that the government
would find the need to define 'school', in order to prevent a large host
of fly-by-night schemes being hatched to take this 'free' government
money. The danger to SVS, as I see it, is that almost any effort to
define school so as to make the fly-by-night schools impossible would
also make the sudbury schools impossible.

> Furthermore, to suggest that they should not be given the option of
> a wider variety of schools because they might make the "wrong" choice of
> not sending their children to SVS strikes me as somewhat fascistic.

I misrepresented my position, if it appeared that I was suggesting this.
Allow me to explain.

The act of vouchers, I fear, will ultimately force the government (State
or Federal) to _limit_ the total variety of schools... This will mean,
in practice, that _nobody_ will have access to that 'wide variety of

My personal opinion about public education, is that its a _mistake_ to
confuse a public information system that everyone should have equal
access to with such issues as 'truancy laws' and 'vouchers' etc... I
propose, instead, the library model.

The library is a public structure that houses resources which _anyone_ in
the community can make use of. This doesn't mean that those resources
need be limited to books... One could include gyms, internet providers,
theatre, organized sports, lecture series, etc... One need not _deny_
those services to the citizens older than 18, nor _force_ the citizens
under 16 to make use of them.

> Making sure the public schools remain hideous is not an appropriate
> way to spread SVS's ideas. We do not need to punish the masses for
> their crime of not adhering to our philosophy.

I'll repeat myself. The creation of a voucher system, which would place
us in danger of losing our freedom to _make_ a school that differs from a
public school, hardly sounds like a suggestion that we 'punish the
masses'. Rather, instead of only the most _abjectly_impovershed_ people
being prevented from attending better schools (note that given our low
tuition, SVS certainly has a large number of kids from relatively
impovershed backgrounds), I fear that vouchers would place political
pressure on the government to prevent much innovation in schools -- in
effect damning _everybody_ to horrible schools, and preventing our society
as a whole from _ever_ being able to move to the point that will allow
reasonable treatment of the most impovershed children.

In short: The battle cry of the pro-voucher forces is wrong. Vouchers
wont encourage innovation and novelty in schools, but will instead force
the government to _define_ schools in a very restrictive way.

> [snip]
> --
> SwiftRain <> --

--Scott David Gray
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