Thursday, January 23, 2003


Go Big Ed has announced an open debate on the question of school choice for Nebraska. If you have thoughts pro or con, please email them to swilliams1@cox.net for posting on this website. By way of introducing the series:

The key danger of school-choice vouchers is that the government will use them to infiltrate private schools and homeschools with the same brand of failed regulations and assessments which are now threatening to ruin our formerly-good public schools.

Many education advocates like the idea of putting the power and control of the money into individual parents' hands. But they fear the effect of the strings attached to money that originates as tax dollars. Even though government interference was minimal with the GI Bill after World War II, which would be a similar scheme, many education reformers don't believe the huge educational bureaucracy can resist its own nature and stay out of the process adequately.

It would be a calculated risk to create a vouchers system which would be sending tax dollars into new educational settings such as private schools and homeschools. Taxpayers would have to analyze the likelihood of such a system being able to ascertain cost-efficient use of those tax dollars without damaging or destroying the educational freedom and flexibility of
private schools and homeschools.

Another warning: government programs that start out sounding so good on paper, and assuring their status as "voluntary" or having a light paperwork load and so forth, have almost without exception proven in the long run to be harmful, expensive and intrusive. Many education analysts believe that would be the fate of any innovations that would use vouchers.

With these dangers and risks in mind, consider these points from Kevin Cassidy, a stay at home dad, and an inactive member of the Nebraska Bar. He offers a thoughtful endorsement of vouchers:

By Kevin Cassidy

I think the answer to all the school issues is vouchers. The state government should collect taxes specifically for the education of children. That money should then be distributed to the parents for the education of their children from 5-18, ONLY. No more money for birth to twenty-one! The parents could then use their $4,000 voucher (for example, not $8,000)
to send their child to a public school or a private school or a homeschool. Homeschools need to be checked to prevent fraudulent use of money intended for educating children.

I think this system would make everyone happy.

1) The schools would have to compete for the students.

2) Unruly students have the money from the government but it would be their own fault if the schools refuse to enroll them. This particularly would make teachers happy because it answers the discipline question at all levels of education, public and private. You have a right to the money, not the right to be enrolled. If your kid is a pain, then you homeschool him!

3) Just as I have the right to use my Pell Grant to go to Creighton, one can choose Trinity or St. Margaret Mary's as well as Swanson or Harrison schools.

4) It would remove a whole level of bureaucracy from the government and cut down on costs. It would make each school a separate player and if you stink and can't get the kids you go out of business.

5) It also would expose the reality that many urban schools fail not just because of the teachers, but the horrible parents and students. King Elementary in OPS stinks just as much because of the attitude that getting an education is "acting white" as it does because of any deficiencies of its faculty. It is NOT all the NEA's fault although they aggravate many a bad situation.

6) We need to remember that the parochial school systems teach kids to read without all the extra and expensive bells and whistles of their public counterparts. If we had a bottomless pit of money it would not be such a big deal but it is wrong to keep spending more and more to fix the problem.

7) Some schools would try to fill the need for Special Ed. They have their right to $4k but not from birth to 21 and putting them all in one school would cut costs and offer them more help.


So what do you think about school choice? Sound off at swilliams1@cox.net

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