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Saturday, June 29, 2002

Voucher Take-The Supreme Court came out 5-4 in favor of allowing Cleveland's voucher program yesterday. This shoots down the church-state seperation issue that critics raised; now they will have debate on the merits. Coverage of the case has been muted in the Blogosphere; Kevin Holtsberry has the comprehensive coverage. The word that a number of liberal critics of vouchers, including the Detroit Free Press this morning, like to use is "siphon." For those of us who remember the gas crunches, the word has a ring like that of horse-rustling, as people would steal gas by pumping it out of other car's gas tanks. However, if you take the word at its face value, siphoning is simply moving a liquid from one tank to another via suction. Will it take money away from public schools? Yes. Is it the public schools' birthright to get that money? Not in my book. Will this "hamper effors to fix the public schools" as the Free Press intones? Only if vouchers leave school with less money on a per-capita basis. If private schools take 20% of the students at half the current public school tuition, then the public schools will have an 11% per-pupil budget increase, given that the will have 80% of the students but will have 90% of the money. Yes, there might be some leakage as people currently paying their own tuition will get tax money, but the cost savings of the private education will offset the money given to existing private-school students. David Heddle peice of a week ago points out one problem with private schools-the special needs kid. You may not have a critical mass of autistic Baptists to set up a private school Special Ed program, or enough evengelical Hispanic kids to get a English-emersion program going, Not every niche will be bing enough to fill up a class or a school. However, where there is a niche that has a critical mass to support a school (or a program within an existing school) the option should be allowed, giving the private school a larger voucher to support the special-needs child. It will help the parents, the kid, the public (due to lower costs) and it only hurts the public teachers unions.

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