"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

School Board Member Speaks Out on School Vouchers

The New Gallup/PDK poll shows continuing erosion in public support for school vouchers, moving from nearly 50% in 2002 to 36% this year. Is there an irony that the percentage of those favoring vouchers is exactly the same percentage this week as Bush's favorable rating among voters? It is interesting, too, that the poll was taken before the recent research released by ED that shows private schools doing no better than publics, once poverty levels are taken into account.

Here is an astute commentary on the Bush/Spellings voucher fixation by Pinellas County school board member, Jane Galluci:

Misguided policy ideas designed to divert attention from real issues are sadly a symptom of election-year politics (" Opportunity for all children," Opposing view, Education quality debate, Aug. 14).

So it is with the Bush administration's national school voucher proposal, an idea that even advocates have pronounced dead on arrival this year - and with good reason. The plan to provide taxpayer-financed vouchers of $4,000 per student a year to fund private school tuition would not raise student achievement, improve public education or provide taxpayers with public accountability.

Objective research suggests that despite built-in screening advantages for private voucher schools, their students do not outperform public school students. Even the U.S.

Department of Education recently released a study that showed when comparing similar students, public schools perform as well as or better than their private counterparts that can pick and choose which students to accept.

And contrary to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' assertion that vouchers "complement" the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, they actually would render the law obsolete because private schools receiving tax dollars at the expense of public schools would not face the rigid public accountability standards to which public schools must adhere. . .

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