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2/24/02

STRAPPADO WRACK

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The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education - Paul Karl Feyerabend

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Let the parents choose . . .

School Vouchers Long Overdue

The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations. ----Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1922

With the prospects that the U.S. Supreme Court are on the verge of a historic ruling, school vouchers may well be the last hope for saving the next generation. The idea of effectively allowing parents an alternative to government schools has been with us for decades. Back in the mid fifties, market proponents like Milton Friedman wrote extensively on The Role of Government Education.  Opportunities for children should be the standard, not conformity to bureaucratic curriculum.

The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program has clear support from parents and single parents that seek a decent education for their children. The failure of the American public school system is beyond debate by any objective person. Public education in our cities is equated with bankruptcy in moral purpose. The National Center for Policy Analysis offers up a detailed report and defense for the voucher concept. The deceptive argument that this program violates separation of church and state needs to be seen just for what it is. A veiled attempt to protect the vast government apparatus that claims to serve the interests of the student. Teacher organizations can't have it both ways, asserting they are a profession, while acting like a union.

From the Brief Analysis - Cleveland, School Choice and the Constitution the report concludes: "The Cleveland voucher program allows families who could not otherwise afford to exercise choice (e.g., by moving to another district, enrolling in private schools, undertaking home schooling) to decide what constitutes an appropriate education for their children. This was clearly a legitimate public policy goal for the Ohio General Assembly when it created the Cleveland program. The fact that no public schools have chosen to participate or that many parents and students choose religious schools under the program in no way delegitimizes the goal of providing better education alternatives for children from low-income families".

The significance of encouraging true competition with the government school education system, cannot be stressed enough. The current structure is a disaster, while the likes of Albert Shanker of the American Federation of Teachers referred to the potential of turning an education endeavor into a profit-making venture as the "threat of an educational industrial complex."

Well excuse me! Just what do you call the present monopoly of government schools, if it is not a guaranteed racket of protection? It seems that socialism is the only model that Shanker defends and free enterprise the option that he fears.

You have heard this before and most of you know the record all too well. But what may be new to some is that a lineup of advocates ranging from a left of center Republican Rudolph Guiliani to the Democrat mayor John O. Norquist of Milwaukee favor the Cleveland voucher program. Kenneth W. Starr helped to write Ohio's defense for their program, while C. Boyden Gray, Edwin Meese III helped to provide pro-vouchers briefs. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson has said: "vouchers are a response to the catastrophic and well-documented failure of Cleveland's inner-city public schools", will argue the Bush administration's viewpoint, before the supreme court.

Just who seeks true reform for the sake of the next generation of deprived children? Isn't it time to admit the total miscarriage of wasting more money, administered by hacks and incompetent teachers, while an entire subculture remains uneducated?

The central argument in public education has never been addressed; namely, control of the process by parents. If parents don't have a practical alternative to leave the system, the government education culture has no reason to change or reform. Society never benefits when people are left to a future of despair. If the current public schools failed in their task of instructing our youth, and a competing one has demonstrated vast improvements, why not encourage the method that works? Especially when the parents demand meaningful change, the charade of 'business as usual' is offensive to any sincere person.

Face facts! Public education IS big business. One that has caused more harm to the country than the collapse in dozens of Enron's or Global Crossing's. We are talking about the future of the nation. The teacher union needs to be fired . . .

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The only incentive for internal reform of the government schools lies within the peril of losing their pupils to a competing educational system. For the first time in several generations, the highest court may well make the correct decision. Conventional wisdom looks to Sandra Day O'Connor to provide the swing vote. This decision offers hope to fix a broken and entrenched national embarrassment - the government schools.
Mr Friedman concludes: "The result of these measures would be a sizable reduction in the direct activities of government, yet a great widening in the educational opportunities open to our children. They would bring a healthy increase in the variety of educational institutions available and in competition among them. Private initiative and enterprise would quicken the pace of progress in this area as it has in so many others. Government would serve its proper function of improving the operation of the invisible hand without substituting the dead hand of bureaucracy."
If we knew the answer for nearly a half century, why is the problem still with us?
SARTRE - February 24, 2002

I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive.
John W. Gardner

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