Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Vouchers Give Every Child a Chance for Success

In Washington, D.C., the debate over school vouchers has centered on a congressional pilot program in the city which, from the very beginning, has sparked disagreement among a wide cross-section of residents.

Vouchers could help provide many residents with the better education they desire for their children who attend poorly performing public schools. Other residents argue, however, that vouchers are unfair because they use taxpayer money to provide a private or charter school education.

Although money for vouchers is generally diverted from public school funding, vouchers should be provided for those whose schools are failing them, because no one should be forced to send his or her child to a perpetually underperforming school.

In a speech last week, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said school vouchers would inflame ethnic and religious conflicts.

According to Newsday, Clinton told a group of activists at the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation: “First family that comes and says `I want to send my daughter to St. Peter’s Roman Catholic School’ and you say `Great, wonderful school, here’s your voucher.’ Next parent that comes and says, `I want to send my child to the school of the Church of the White Supremacist.'”

While I agree with Clinton on issues ranging from homeland security to healthcare, I do not agree that school vouchers will lead to the promotion of racism and hatred.

The vast majority of children in low-income, public schools do not have the financial resources to pay for elite boarding schools or private schools. For many students, schools outside the neighborhoods in which they grew up are their only tickets out of the cycle of poverty around them.

Many bright students in inner-city high schools have the potential and knowledge needed to attend college, but they do not have qualified college counselors to encourage them to apply to schools and seek scholarships. What is so inherently wrong with allowing parents to send their children to schools where they feel they would benefit the most?

In an article I wrote last semester concerning why many public schools are failing (“Testing Doesn’t Address the Elementary Failures,” THE HOYA, Nov. 1, 2005, A3), I listed the reduction of class sizes as one way to help schools succeed. any private schools have the small class sizes that allow students the attention they need and deserve. In public schools, however, many students get lost in the shuffle when they are placed in a classroom with 35 other students, and as a result, they slack off, play around and generally lose interest in their studies. Students in the inner city deserve just as much attention and resources as the children who attend school in wealthier suburban areas.

Though there is an economic disparity between many urban and suburban students, education is a universal right.

Basic history and math are no longer sufficient. Successful students need to take advanced-level American history courses and statistics and trigonometry, not just algebra. If we allow students to fall behind in these areas, they will never be able to compete in the world marketplace.

I have respect for every teacher because teaching is a demanding career that requires a great deal of patience and dedication. But many teachers unions oppose vouchers because of a lack of funding in their own school districts. That’s not surprising, considering that some school systems mismanage money and thereby pass the buck on to the teachers, many of whom are forced to pay for extra school supplies.

While school vouchers certainly take up some government resources, the government can help the funding situation by employing better financial oversight rather than letting school systems fend for themselves. Vouchers use only a small portion of resources, while school systems spend billions a year educating students. For example, in the District, per-pupil spending is very high and yet many schools are mismanaged.

Poor parents who desire the best for their child are no less important than a governor or senator who wants the same for his or her children. School vouchers are effective in helping many students achieve their full potential, and it would be wrong to deny these students a chance at real success.

John Dorman is a senior in the College and can be reached at dormanthehoya.com. THE INSIDE EDGE appears every other Tuesday.

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