June 14, 2012

Why Romney’s Big School Voucher Idea is Really Rather Puny

By By Andrew J. Rotherham

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School vouchers are back in the news except that proponents of the idea, including Mitt Romney, are not using the word vouchers any more. For some reason voters don’t like that term, but they do like the idea of giving parents more choices, so vouchers — I mean “scholarships” and “choice” are a big part of Mr. Romney’s education platform. Listen to him talk about it, and it’s as though we’ve traveled back in time; substitute Bob Dole for Romney and President Clinton for President Obama, and it’s the same debate we had in the 1990s. There is a lot more choice in education now than there was two decades ago: voucher programs for private and parochial schools are well established in cities like Milwaukee and Cleveland, and states like Indiana and Louisiana have enacted them more recently. There are also about half a dozen state programs specifically for students with disabilities. Meanwhile, charter schools continue to proliferate; there are now more than 5,000 of these publicly funded alternatives that students can choose to attend rather than their traditional neighborhood school. But despite all that, this latest round of voucher-pseudonym talk probably won’t amount to much. That’s because school choice is a state-by-state game, not a federal one…

Read the full column at TIME.com

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