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Posted at 9:14 PM ET, 02/12/2011
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Too quick to credit vouchers

By Carol Nissenson, Washington

Vivian Butler [“What school vouchers have bought for my family,” Local Opinions, Jan. 6] is pleased with how her daughter Jerlisa has done in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship voucher program and at St. Benedict the Moor, but anecdotes do not trump facts. The Archdiocese of Washington was considering closing St. Benedict’s before the voucher program “breathed new life into D.C. Catholic Schools,” as a Post headline put it in June 2005, hardly suggesting that families were clamoring to send their children there.

Gibbs Elementary School does not have great test scores. St. Benedict may, but since they aren’t published, we don’t know. But Jerlisa might have done even better in an out-of-boundary school or charter school.

I suspect Jerlisa’s improvement is more a reflection of her mother’s dedication than of her voucher.

By Carol Nissenson, Washington  | February 12, 2011; 9:14 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., education, schools  
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Comments

And I suspect that this writer doesn't know either the child or the mother in question.

It's just amazing to me that some busybody would question a mother's story of how her child's education was vastly improved by the availability of vouchers. What kind of person would put abstract principles above a child's education?

I wish that Ms. Nissenson's children were forced to attend the worst school in the District. This broad would certainly change her tune if THAT happened.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 13, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Too quick to discredit vouchers- it is possible that the desire for children to attend the private schools existed, and once the cost barrier was removed, parents were able to use the opportunity to seek a better education for their children. For Jerlisa, a local catholic school was chosen to provide that education and their choice is, so far, a good one for the student.
It seems that the only 'fact' in the original comment is that the local school has lousy test scores, and using anecdotal information to refute other anecdotal information is not effective.
Is it possible the root source of 'discomfort' with the voucher system is that the parents (private citizens) have control over where the child's portion of school tax money is spent, rather than a few 'enlightened' individuals- dictating- what is best for the 'masses'.
That catholic school has standards that it must meet, and is responsible for student test scores, and has a further incentive to provide a better education to it's students. Namely, the students are not forced by law to be there- and if they provide a crappy product, potential customers will seek services elsewhere

Posted by: sapphiremon | February 13, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

School choice now!

Posted by: tulsa_dave | February 13, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Sapphiremom, there's no such thing as parental control over a child's portion of school tax money. That's because we don't pay taxes to educate our own children. We -- a "we" that includes people who never had children as well as those whose children are grown -- pay taxes to educate ALL children, because an educated citizenry benefits everyone. This is why the son or daughter of billionaires always has the right to attend public schools even if his/her parents choose to send their children to private schools.

The reason you think there's such a thing as one's own portion of school-tax money is that people with a vested interest in vouchers, chiefly the religious right, have been propagandizing (make that lying) about the issue for decades.

Posted by: angelas1 | February 13, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Sapphiremom, there's no such thing as a parent's having control over the portion of school taxes that parent pays to educate his or her child/children. That's because we -- and "we" includes those of us who never had children as well as those whose children are grown -- don't pay taxes for our children alone. We pay taxes to educate ALL children because an educated citizenry benefits us all. This is why even a billionaire's child always has the right to attend public schools even if the billionaire prefers to pay private school tuition.

The fantasy that parents have some "right" to use taxes to educate their children in private schools is a fraud that has been perpetrated for decades by those with a vested interest in vouchers, which is to say the religious right and the politicians who kowtow to them.

Posted by: angelas1 | February 13, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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