A Face To School Vouchers

If you still doubt that school vouchers can make a significant difference, please, please, please read Casey J. Lartigue Jr. detailing his day activities volunteering with the Washington Scholarship Fund. It is a must read, especially for those who have the most needy and troubled youths in mind.

For example, he writes:

there is one woman who needs a cane to get around. She is rather frail, probably in her 70s. Last year she went to a JAIL in DC to recruit families for the scholarship program. I wasn’t there that day, but heard from someone else there that the many ladies waiting to get into the jail to see their men were eager to sign up. I don’t know the exact story behind it, but one inmate “temporarily” got away from officers to make sure his child was signed up for the voucher program.

He even writes about those who are against vouchers:

It was stressful talking to these parents, hearing their stories, knowing how desperate they are to get their children out of the situations they are in now. I’m on the WSF board, I volunteer, and every time I leave one of those sessions I feel drained. When I hear people denounce the program, I always like to check from where the person is talking. It is never in the room or at any Washington Scholarship Fund events. That’s because the parents would probably rip them up. It is so much easier to denounce when you aren’t involved or have an ideological or political axe to grind.

Some of the parents who feel that this is the last chance to get their children into a quality school get really emotional about the program. I was present last year during the publicly funded lottery–a cold process with a lot of lawyers and other witnesses present. Then I was there when some of the parents were notified that they had received scholarships. So many shouts of hallelujah! and praise the lord! were coming through the phone lines. Then there are the sad calls to parents to let them know that they had not received a scholarship. So many are skeptical before, during, and after the process. When they don’t receive a scholarship, it confirms their worst fears. But the ones who win scholarships? Hallelujah!

When I read stuff like this, it makes me wonder why liberals (read: Democrats), instead of spending so much time defending affirmative action (a policy that benefits very few inner city people) or ‘programs for low-income families’ that have dubious records, instead of wasting their time with those measures, don’t put all of their energy behind policies that have a track record of helping specifically those in need the most? Why don’t they get behind vouchers as strongly as conservatives (read: Republicans)? If they really care about the poor and the disenfranchised, why not put most of your energy behind something that primarily benefits them, especially early on in their life when they need it most?

Then I remember exactly why they don’t. And I am once again reminded of some of the reasons why I am conservative and not liberal.

If it were up to me, I would take every child of an anti-voucher limousine liberal out of the private school or fancy public school they are attending and send them to some of the worse public schools in the country – for example, schools in Compton, Watts or South Central Los Angeles. I can guarantee that all of their babble about how one more billion to the school system is the solution will quickly vanish and they will start pushing for solutions that have some track record of working and start to clearly see the power and hope vouchers bring.

Families at a Washington Scholarship Fund school fair, June 2004

A Constrained Vision has more.

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