Democrats And Vouchers

Fransoir Williams
Harvard University economist Jeffrey Alan Miron writes:

Democratic politicians tend to oppose education vouchers. One reason is that Democrats obtain substantial support from teachers’ unions, which see vouchers as a serious threat.

Yet one constituency Democrats claim to represent—the economically disadvantaged, especially minorities—is the one with the most to gain from vouchers. This group has the worst public schools and the least ability to choose better ones.

Apparently some Democratic politicians and low-income, minority parents are beginning to realize vouchers might be worth a try. Read more about it here.

Breanna Walton

He links to this New York Times article that writes:

As a student at Shaw Junior High School here, Amie Fuwa strained to shut out the distractions of friends cutting up. She struggled through math, and used photocopies or the library when textbooks were scarce.

Now Amie, 14, a child of immigrants from Nigeria and the Dominican Republic, attends Archbishop Carroll High School, a Catholic school near a verdant hill of churches nicknamed the Little Vatican. When algebra confounds Amie, her teacher stays with her after school to help, and a mentor keeps her on course.

“It’s a lot of people behind my back now,” Amie said.

Before, she said, she “felt like it didn’t really matter to different people I know, like my teachers, if I failed.”

Amie is one of about 1,700 low-income, mostly minority students in Washington who at taxpayer expense are attending 58 private and parochial schools through the nation’s first federal voucher program, now in its second year.

Last year, parents appeared lukewarm toward the program, which was put in place by Congressional Republicans as a five-year pilot program, But this year, it is attracting more participation, illustrating how school-choice programs are winning over minority parents, traditionally a Democratic constituency.

Washington’s African-American mayor, Anthony A. Williams, joined Republicans in supporting the program, prompted in part by a concession from Congress that pumped more money into public and charter schools. In doing so, Mr. Williams ignored the ire of fellow Democrats, labor unions and advocates of public schools.

“As mayor, if I can’t get the city together, people move out,” said Mr. Williams, who attended Catholic schools as a child. “If I can’t get the schools together, why should there be a barrier programmatically to people exercising their choice and moving their children out?”

The full article can be found here.

6 Responses to “Democrats And Vouchers”

  1. First off, great topic, Alfonso. It is one near and dear to my heart, as I too endured the hardships of being surrounded by underperforming and often rowdy classmates in a typical failing (and dangerous) New York City high school.

    Not only do I agree with your position on school vouchers but I also have this to add:
    It is my observation, not only of myself as a student but of other students, that not only will well-performing students perform better in a conducive learning environment, so will average-performing students.

    Like the Latino adage goes, “Show me who you walk with, and I’ll show you who you are”, I believe that when placed in a classroom with disruptive students who are not interested in learning, well-performing and average-performing students often feel discouraged from doing their best in class because of the rowdy kids around them.

    We all know that kids and teens are quite vulnerable to peer pressure, and ill-performing kids may make them feel “uncool” or “white” for wanting to do the class work or wanting to take down notes.

    Placing them in a private academy where such disruptive behavior is not tolerated would eliminate such discouragement.

    I remember being in high school and hearing about Rudy Guiliani talking about school vouchers, and as soon as I understood what it was, I wanted one. I thought it was a great idea, and I still do.

    Rock on, Alfonso!

  2. Big Gringo says:

    So wait a sec, is that 1st photo the Harvard economics prof?

  3. Big Gringo,

    LOL, no, not the Harvard economics professor, but certainly a future Harvard economics professor. 🙂

    Thanks Daniel, great response!

  4. Big Gringo says:

    So, with all of the attention immigration is getting these days, which is quite a shift (and a good one), what do you think it will take for public education & school choice to get more attention? Did CA lose its chance when vouchers came up a few years ago?

  5. No, certainly not. I think more awareness is key, which is why I joined a a voucher organization as a guest blogger. Check back in a week or so, the announcement should come soon. The blog should have some very interesting debates too.

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