Tuesday, December 7, 2010

(educational) vouchers in Denver?

People support food vouchers all of the time, but educational vouchers are a little tougher, given all of the red herrings and the need for abstract thinking (to imagine something we don't have).

The chief catalysts for reform in education are: quality, costs, and "menu choice" issues (e.g., graduation prayer to Jesus, lukewarm deity, or none). In Denver, it's costs. This will be an increasing issue as the macroeconomy struggles and local/state governments find it difficult to reduce non-education spending.

Here's Stephanie Simon in the WSJ on prospects for educational vouchers in Denver...

The school board in a wealthy suburban county south of Denver is considering letting parents use public funds to send their children to private schools—or take classes with private teachers—in a bid to rethink public education.

The proposals on the table in Douglas County constitute a bold step toward outsourcing a segment of public education...Already hit hard by state cutbacks, the local board has cut $90 million from the budget over three years, leaving some principals pleading for family donations to buy math workbooks and copy paper...

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving a voucher program in Cleveland that public money could be used for private religious schools as long as parents were not steered to any one particular faith-based program and had a "genuine choice" on where to use their vouchers. About 160,000 children in the U.S., mostly low-income or with special needs, use vouchers or scholarships subsidized indirectly by the state to attend private schools, according to the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Douglas County proposal would allow religious schools in the voucher program to base admissions on faith....


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