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Vouchers Won't Solve Education Problems

September 30, 2003

Re "Vouchers Find Favor Outside GOP," Sept. 26: Once again politicians believe they are experts on education merely because they once went to school. They demand public school accountability yet will give vouchers to private schools that won't release their standardized test scores. They cry, "No child left behind," but these vouchers can go to schools that reject many students deemed undesirable for the private school environment. Although a teaching credential does not guarantee teaching excellence, many private schools don't even require their teachers to have one.

In what way will taking money away from public schools help to improve them? And don't give me that baloney about competition. Private schools don't have to follow state education codes, provide special education services or accept every student. Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, I'd be interested in hearing a logical argument explaining how using taxpayer money to teach children religious dogma is not a government endorsement of religion.

Further, does anyone really think that private schools in Washington, D.C., will be able to overcome the socioeconomic conditions that have in large part created the educational difficulties there? Private schools play a valid role in the U.S., but if we believe that educating all students is a noble enterprise, we have to give public schools our full support. Vouchers will never be the answer.

Kurt Page

Laguna Niguel

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Re "Democrats' Knee-Jerk Opposition to Vouchers," by Matthew Miller, Commentary, Sept. 25: The test of whether the advocates of vouchers are serious is whether a poor child could actually go to a good private school for the value of the proposed voucher. I believe that most voucher proposals are simply an attempt to use public funds to subsidize white families who do not want to send their kids to school with black or Hispanic children, or those who hold extreme religious beliefs.

My skepticism about vouchers would be relieved if the laws establishing vouchers would require that any school taking voucher money accept the voucher as full payment for tuition and fees. Then we could worry about discrimination in admissions and the flurry of new schools that would be opened to exploit voucher money.

Roger A. Webb

Little Rock, Ark.

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