Tuesday, December 03, 2002


The Wall Street Journal's lead editorial Dec. 2 has a little graphic that shows that scads of kids in the Washington, D.C., public schools are not meeting basic proficiency levels in reading and math. By 11th grade in the nation's capital, 47% of the kids are deemed, basically, illiterate, and 72% innumerate.

The newspaper called for freedom of choice in the form of school choice for these students trapped in rotten schools. Most of them are African-Americans and Latinos who are being "condemned" to second-class citizenship, the Journal alleged, by failing schools that aren't equipping them for good jobs. "If that isn't a national scandal, we don't know what is," the paper lamented.

The thing is, as I looked at the percentages of kids who didn't even meet basic academic proficiency levels as measured by the Stanford Achievement Tests in D.C., one of the highest-spending school districts in the nation, I couldn't help thinking about the kids in inner-city OPS whose scores were pretty much as bad.

Why couldn't someone in the Nebraska Legislature get the guts to come up with a no-strings-attached voucher for these kids? It could cover, say, half of the average amount now being allocated per-pupil to OPS in state aid. OPS could collect the other half just to keep its engines running. But half could go to the family of any student in one of those inner-city schools. Then that family can either scrape up the rest of the money needed to cover private-school tuition, or get a partial subsidy from a private scholarship fund such as the Children's Scholarship Fund.

What would be wrong with at least trying to get the ones out of there who want to get out?

Let our children go!

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