Education: A Golden Age

“The education sector’s structure and policies will change more in the next 3 years than they changed in the last 2,500 years”

Washington DC vouchers

Andrew Campanella and Washington Post article on vouchers:

“I want to share an excellent editorial from today’s Washington Post (see below). The Post’s full support of school vouchers in D.C., especially in the middle of the presidential campaign, is important.

The Post accurately calls for leaders to “look past these tired political arguments to the real needs of real children.””

Vouching for Vouchers
Would a President Obama listen to the D.C. parents and students benefiting from school choice?

Saturday, October 18, 2008; A14

IT WOULD be nice if facts, not ideology, framed the discussion over the District’s school voucher program. In an exchange during this week’s presidential debate, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama airily dismissed the program, while Republican Sen. John McCain offered a somewhat jumbled defense of it. Lost was this: 1,903 poor children have educational opportunities because of a unique program that detracts not a whit from either public or charter schools.

The stance of the two candidates is not surprising, given the history of their respective parties. Democrats loathe any suggestion of sending public money to private schools, while Republicans see the free market as a solution to the woes of urban education. It’s important, though, that the next president — and if the polls are to be believed, that will be Mr. Obama — look past these tired political arguments to the real needs of real children served by the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The next president and incoming Congress will decide whether to continue a program that gives low-income families up to $7,500 per child for their children to attend private schools of each family’s choosing.

Mr. Obama’s contention that data show that vouchers don’t work should be reexamined. The most in-depth study into the impact of vouchers involves the D.C. program, and it is far from complete. Federal researchers in early studies have found no statistically significant difference in test scores between students who were offered scholarships and those who were not, but they are encouraged by signs showing improved reading by children with the scholarships. It would be wrong to end the program before all the results are known. Then, too, it is undisputed that parents participating in the program believe their children are in better, safer schools. And, as Mr. McCain pointed out, shouldn’t parents have the same choice “that Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama had and Cindy and I had” to send their children to a school of their choosing? Mr. McCain’s numbers were off, but in a city with deplorable public schools, there’s demand and support for this program.

Mr. Obama is right that vouchers alone won’t solve the ills of education, but if he is elected, he should listen to poor people who are benefiting from this program and to local leaders who support it. Those leaders include, in his words, Washington’s “wonderful new superintendent” and “young mayor” who, in trying to improve the city’s troubled schools, would never think to limit a parent’s options. When all is said and done, they favor a program that brings money to public and charter schools while giving some poor parents what many others take for granted: a choice.

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2008/10/19 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

The Third Presidential Debate 2008 – Education

Barack Obama extrapolating the near-monopolistic, big-government education system of the 1970s instead of embracing the global education system of the 21st century, of which vouchers are a key and automatic element.  John McCain consistently supporting sector-changing choice.

2008/10/15 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Robert Reich on Americans reacquiring their means

Since the year 2000, median family income has been dropping, adjusted for inflation. One of the main reasons the typical family has taken on more debt has been to maintain its living standards in the face of these declining real incomes.

It’s not as if the typical family suddenly went on a spending binge — buying yachts and fancy cars and taking ocean cruises. No, the typical family just tried to keep going as it had before. But with real incomes dropping, and the costs of necessities like gas, heating oil, food, health insurance, and even college tuitions all soaring, the only way to keep going as before was to borrow more. You might see this as a moral failure, but I think it’s more accurate to view it as an ongoing struggle to stay afloat when the boat’s sinking.

The “living beyond our means” argument suggests that the answer over the long term is for American families to become more responsible and not spend more than they earn. Well, that may be necessary but it’s hardly sufficient.

The real answer over the long term is to restore middle-class earnings so families don’t have to go deep into debt to maintain what was a middle-class standard of living. And that requires, among other things, affordable health insurance, tax credits for college tuition, good schools, and an energy policy that’s less dependent on oil, the price of which is going to continue to rise as demand soars in China, India, and elsewhere.

In other words, the way to make sure Americans don’t live beyond their means is to give them back the means.

2008/10/14 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment