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Voucher Plan for Schools

August 01, 1993

Your article about the potential taxpayer savings of school vouchers (July 22) correctly points out that the success or failure of vouchers to save money depends on the number of students who opt to use them.

The results of numerous polls suggest that taxpayers have little to fear. Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for vouchers among parents with school-aged children. Especially relevant is a survey commissioned by the Reason Foundation which asked Los Angeles parents whether or not they would transfer their own child out of the public schools if a $2,600 voucher were available. An overwhelming 52% said "yes." Among African-American parents, where support for vouchers has traditionally been highest, 69% said they would use the vouchers to place their children in private schools.

The article states that the break-even point would be reached when just 10% of currently enrolled students transfer out of the public schools. Our poll indicates that at least five times that number would switch, given vouchers and a robust private-school market.

In addition to having the potential to save taxpayers billions of dollars, vouchers, by letting parents choose the best education for their families, will help save a far more valuable resource--our children and our future.

JANET R. BEALES, Reason Foundation, Los Angeles

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Your article explaining the savings the school voucher initiative could produce misses the whole point: who gets and who gives! Who saves money after a certain number of students leave the public school system? The state. Who loses money even if not a single student transfers to a private voucher-redeeming school? The public schools. All 550,000 students currently enrolled in private schools would be eligible for state-subsidized vouchers in 1995. When a public school student leaves to go to private school, the state education fund (according to Prop. 98 and the initiative) would get a double hit. Not only does the cost of the voucher (approximately $2,600 a pupil) and an addition "savings" of $2,600 come out of public school funding, the next year's drop in ADA (average daily attendance) requires that an additional $5,200 be reduced from the money required to go to public education. For each student who leaves, the public schools will lose funding for two students.

The voucher initiative is a vindictive, destructive, angry attack on our public schools.

THEA BRODKIN, Malibu

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I like your headline, "Voucher System Success Would Hinge on Big Ifs" (July 22). There are a lot of "ifs" related to this proposition except the one that counts the most: If this measure does not deliver all that it promises, it will be nearly impossible to correct. Supporters are calling its provisions "ironclad." That's what scares me.

KATHLEEN L. ASAY, Fullerton

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