County Ups the Ante in Voucher War
I'm sure this comment will provoke strong disagreement from many on this email list, but I don't think this affluent Colorado community's voucher plan is a good idea. I support vouchers only when they're targeted at poor families and/or students attending failing schools (which is usually the same people):
In a bold bid to revamp public education, a suburban district south of Denver has begun handing out vouchers that use public money to help its largely affluent residents send their children to private and church-based schools.
The move is being challenged in state court and a judge has held hearings this week to determine if the program can go forward.
The Douglas County School District experiment is noteworthy because nearly all voucher programs nationally aim to help children who are poor, have special needs or are trapped in failing public schools. Douglas County, by contrast, is one of the most affluent in the U.S., with household income nearly double the national median, and has schools ranked among the best in Colorado.
The program is also unique in that the district explicitly promotes the move as a way for it to save money. The district is, in effect, outsourcing some students' education to the private sector for less than it would spend to teach them in public schools.
If Douglas County persuades the courts to sign off, it could transform the debate about vouchers nationwide, potentially turning them into a perk for families who want more than even high-performing public schools offer.
"This is a radical idea," said Claire Smrekar, an investigator at the National Center on School Choice, a federal research organization.
- AUGUST 5, 2011