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Give Poor Students a Choice
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Public schools; Federal legislation; Educational vouchers; School choice
Author: Raspberry, William
Date: Sep 15, 2003
Start Page: A.23
Section: EDITORIAL

So House Republicans, knowing a lot of anti-voucher Democrats -- including members of the fiercely anti-voucher caucus -- would be out of town, scheduled a vote on a plan to launch a five-year voucher experiment for D.C. schoolchildren. The pro-voucher forces prevailed by a single vote.

One side opposes vouchers because vouchers would hurt the schools most children attend (though a dismaying number of these partisans do virtually nothing else to help public schools). The other side supports vouchers because vouchers provide an escape from schools whose leaders will not or cannot improve them (though too often the only thing they do for the students in those schools is to advocate vouchers). Both sides do it for the children.

For all my misgivings about some of the voucher advocates, there is something that troubles me about the anti-voucher crowd as well. Much of the opposition comes from middle-class folk whose own children attended (or had the option of attending) nonpublic schools. And the question that won't go away is: If choice is good for middle-class children, why is it bad for poor children who, without some sort of subsidy, may find themselves stuck in underperforming schools?

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