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Why is Obama killing off D.C.'s voucher program?

The Obama administration said it was going to respect science and respond to evidence -- a contrast, many Democrats said, to the previous regime. So why is President Obama killing off the program that offers the best chance to find out if school vouchers work?

Congress has been paying for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps more than a thousand District children attend private schools. It gives a chance of a future to children who otherwise would be condemned to attend failing schools. How can that be bad?

Generally, opponents offer two arguments. One is that it won't solve the whole problem. Well, no. That's why everyone should support what Chancellor Michelle Rhee is trying to do to improve all D.C. schools. But even she supports the scholarship program. She testified before the Senate last September that until her reforms have had a few more years to take root, she can't guarantee a quality education to every District child. No wonder that every year there have been many more applicants for the vouchers than vouchers to give out.

The second objection is that if children or families with get-up-and-go actually get up and go, things will be even worse for those left behind. There are a lot of problems with this argument, but the main one is that the people who make it usually aren't willing to condemn their own children to attend terrible high schools in order to improve things for the other kids there. Why should we demand that of families who have high aspirations but can't afford to move?

But even if you're inclined against vouchers, why not embrace a program that has a chance to shed real light on the long-running, fraught and inconclusive argument about their effectiveness? The D.C. program was established to provide such evidence. It enrolled a control group of children who applied for vouchers but didn't get them, and it is following them along with the kids with vouchers. In a couple more years, if funded robustly, it would give us a real sense of what worked and what didn't. That could be helpful to lots of children.

Yet the Obama administration seems to be doing everything it can to wind down the program. Why? Early research results have been positive -- certainly in terms of parental satisfaction, but also for achievement. Maybe the Democratic Party, and the teachers union leaders who support it, would rather not see any more evidence.

By Fred Hiatt  | February 8, 2010; 4:27 PM ET
Categories:  Hiatt  | Tags:  Fred Hiatt  
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Comments

Private schools for me, but not for thee...

Typical elitist. Just go quietly into those public "schools" so we can spoonfeed your kids with everything but critical thinking skills, literacy, math, science, and instead indoctrinate them fully in "progressivism," making sure we tell them what idiots their parents and families are...

Posted by: dahozho | February 8, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so hard to say DC schools are "improving" instead of "failing"? Test scores are up, graduation rates are up, truancy rate is improving, school buildings are being improved.

These indications should be characterized with the word improvement.

Let's continue to improve DC Public Schools and stop paying for students to attend private schools. And, education really does start at home. Yes, Rhee cannot guarantee a quality education to every child. As a DC public schools graduate, I did not attain all of my education in the classroom. It started at home with the involvement of my parents. There are so many free educational resources in available Washington, D.C. that are just a subway ride or bus ride away. Yes, I'm looking at you, Mr. and Mrs. Parent.

I agree with the Obama administration. Wind it on down. Thank you.

Posted by: otavio | February 8, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Please do not write down anything that barack obama says, it will only confuse
you when it changes.

Posted by: simonsays1 | February 8, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Why? Really? The teachers' unions want them gone --

Posted by: kbeeks | February 8, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Your flippant comment that the main argument against vouchers is that "people who make that argument..(who are they Mr. Hiatt? Or is not convenient to identify them since it might render your column useless) don't want the ones with get up and go to get up and go" is an insult to honest discussion and an atrocious assumption of the motives of people who have a different view on vouchers. One just might as easily say that the supporters of vouchers want to salve their personal guilt felt because of the advantages their own kids enjoy in their elite private schools

Posted by: scmc | February 8, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Like kbeeks said,

"Why? Really? The teachers' unions want them gone --"

Same reason the radical abortion lobby opposed the Tebow ad, they must stop anything that threatens their indoctrination of the American public.

Posted by: bertielou | February 8, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Fred, there's actually a third argument that you skipped over. Given that many of the vouchers are used to pay for education in Catholic schools, they're a not-so-subtle use of taxpayer dollars to finance religious education. I'm a Methodist, & I wouldn't want my taxes suppporting the teaching of Methodist dogma any more than that of Catholicism.

Posted by: bigfish2 | February 8, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I agree with obama on this issue. The taxpayers fund public schools and that is it. If someone wants more than that go out and earn the money yourself or ask some charity to pay for it.

Posted by: speedo1 | February 8, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama wants to look at science and evidence only when it remains politically convenient to do so.

In the case of school vouchers, any such programs are not ideologically compatible with the goal to have every child subjected to a government-run public school system. (I recall one colleague of mine, an avowed liberal public school ideologue, even referring to home-schooling as a form of "child abuse" in her mind.)

Of course, for wealthy and politically connected liberals today, their brand of "Me-First Marxism" allows them to rationalize sending their own children to private schools while demanding that all other children go to public schools. It takes some mental gymnastics, arguing that vouchers violate separation of church and state or that they weaken public schools or some other such nonsense, but Obama certainly seems to have justified it in his own mind. His own daughters attend the elite Sidwell Friends while D.C. children stuck in poverty are now forced to attend failing public schools.

Posted by: blert | February 8, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Good idea. The public should not fund private schools.

Posted by: speedo1 | February 8, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

nothing like the sight of a black man, pulling another black down.

"Yes He Can"

Posted by: dashriprock | February 8, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Good shut them down.

Until people realize that as long as they want to PAY LITTLE OR NO TAXES then our school systems will suffer and our kids will stay dumb as rocks.

You don't want to pay taxes then don't biatch when schools close, roads aren't plowed, response times for emergency and police times are longer and on and on.

You ask for lower taxes, well this is what happens.

Posted by: kare1 | February 8, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Vouchers are ending for DC students. Is there any doubt that it's the teacher's unions responsibility?

Posted by: stillaliberal | February 8, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Blert, what "mental gymnastics" does it take to say that using taxes to pay for kids to go to Catholic schools is a violation of the separation of church & state? It seems pretty evident to me, without any gymnastics at all. What argument would you use to bolster your contention that it DOESN'T violate the separation?

Posted by: bigfish2 | February 8, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Just another Obama administration capitulation to the Teacher's labor unions? Obama doesn't care about the kids in DC, only his own re-election chances.....which look very, very bad at this time.

Posted by: Realist20 | February 8, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

The myth of Obama... That he is for the poor, the underclass of America. Another shining example to keep people down while his kids go to the best private school in DC. To keep people under-educated and reliant on the Democratic Party is the modus-operandi of this administration. Obama himself is a product of an exclusive private school in Hawaii and later to Harvard.

I must be the naive one here. The one who is still enchanted with the sounds of "Yes we can" in my head.

Posted by: miboard157 | February 8, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

On a case by case basis, I see evidence that vouchers could help some kids get a better education. What worries me is that they could be used to subsidize the Council of Conservative Citizens' "academies" to create a de facto segregated public school system of the deep South. Public schools are already stretched to the limit in the areas where they prevail. In Mississippi, whose schools rank at the bottom for achievement by most standards, more than one quarter of grade schoolers attend private schools. If these students were allowed to use vouchers, it would pull an enormous amount of public money out of the cash-strapped public schools and put it in private schools that either refuse to admit minorities or admit a token one or two so they can claim they don't discriminate.

Posted by: carlaclaws | February 8, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The last thing the democRAT party needs is for the slaves to break free and leave the plantation.

Posted by: cschotta1 | February 8, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Half the students at St. Thomas More School are there on this scholarship.
Of the 1700 students receiving the scholarships, more than 700 attend Catholic schools.

Posted by: edlharris | February 8, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Could it be that VOUCHERS DON'T WORK?>??????? That coupled with the obvious violations of spearation of church and state since almost all the vouchers go into the coffers of the Catholic church. I know that Opus Dei gang of five have no problem with that, but there may be a slight conflict of interest in their reasoning. Something about being activist judges....

So three cheers for ending vouchers. Three more if he figures out that Charters are a waste of time too.

Posted by: John1263 | February 8, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Of course it would never occur to the typical conservative that teachers unions are in favor if things that mke education better, and do not damage education like vouchers.

Posted by: John1263 | February 8, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Too bad you didn't U.S. History, otherwise you would already know that President U. S. Grant already ruled on this issue more than 150 years ago. He said that government should fund Public schools and families should be responsible for riligious or private schools. His statement settled this issue due to the fact he was beloved by the American people. He shoulod have run for another term, we would not have had a century of Jom Crow and this attempt to establish religion in our schools. I don't think you are in the same league as this past president.

Posted by: johnturkal1 | February 8, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Edlharris, your numbers on St. Thomas More, etc. are helpful to my argument about church/state separation, but I can't tell whether you intend them to be ;-)

Posted by: bigfish2 | February 8, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Of course it would never occur to the typical conservative that teachers unions are in favor if things that mke education better, and do not damage education like vouchers.

Posted by: John1263


"Public" schools in DC are the worst, so spare us your BS that teachers unions are "in favor if things make education better!"

Posted by: cschotta1 | February 8, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

The answer is simple...Teachers Unions.

Posted by: luca_20009 | February 8, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I guarantee you the families who can afford to live in affluent areas of Washington, such as Tenleytown, are not clamoring for vouchers. Why should they? They are served by elite DC Public Schools, such as Janney Elementary, so they don't care about the Opportunity Knocks scholarships. However, many children who are able to attend private schools, such as St. Ann's Academy which is right next door to Janney, are coming from other areas of the city and the parents who choose to use the scholarships only want want the best education possible for their kids; whether it be in a Catholic School, Private Academy or Charter School. The fact is the DC Public Schools are in abysmal shape and until they improve parents, particularly those without the means to actually pay for a better education, should be allowed to use Vouchers to give their children every possible opportunity.

This is not a Democrat versus Republican issue, a Catholic school versus DC Public School issue or any other argument used in some of the posts above. The simple fact is the DC Public Schools that serve low income areas are abysmal and families who live in those areas of the city where there is no decent public school just want what most parents want; a chance for their children to learn in a safe, nurturing environment. For those who are "afraid" of using tax dollars for Religious Education I assure you there are more serious issues to fear such as children who don't know how to read and write and classrooms that are out of control.

Fenty, Rhee and the rest of the individuals in charge should be making ALL public schools work, not just those in the affluent areas of DC.

Posted by: martini1973 | February 8, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful panacea -vouchers.

Tell us how wonderful those elite private schools are. Of course they are. Why shouldn't they be?

Then start handing out vouchers to poor kids.

Where do they go? Some contractor scam voucher mill.

Posted by: Marcaurelius | February 8, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

US Grant had one of the most corrupt administrations of his time period. More corrupt than Harding or reagan, and almost as bad as nixon. (notice the party affiliation of the most corrupt administrations?) As for vouchers - they are not going to make a bucket of spit difference for the family who thinks they are going to send their kid to prep school with them. Private schools are at least 15K, and usually more in the neighborhood of 25k. So that 3k voucher meansyou can send you kid to Catholic school where they pay the teachers squat, don't have to adhere to the same standards as public schools, kick out the trouble makers (back to the public school) and fill your kid's head with Cathol,ic dogma. Al at taxpayer expense. Vouchers are a joke. Teachers unions oppose them for the same reason teachers unions oppose many things. They don't work and they hurt far more students than they help. Teacher unions are in favor of education reforms that work, or at least stand a chance of working. Taking taxpayer money and giving it to the dioscese is not it.

Posted by: John1263 | February 8, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Get a soul Hiatt.

Obama is not killing the program as you well know. You fail to provide any fact that is Obama killing the program.

You favoritism for Michele Rhee, husband, opps I mean wife, of your selection in the Next Great Pundit contest )also thru favoritism) is despicable.

No doubt you would favor Palin as president killing Iranians to Obama, even if he was killing a minimal DC program.

Posted by: chucky-el | February 8, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama's kids attend private school. Obama himself is a product of the most exclusive private school in Hawaii...but no vouchers for you, reminds me of the Seinfeld Soup Nazi.

Posted by: JCM-51 | February 8, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Government schools are increasingly dysfunctional. The answer is competition. That's anathema to Obama because he's owned in part by the government unions. The kids are beside the point.

Posted by: hit4cycle | February 8, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

On the church/state issue, I believe it's a fairly well-settled principle of constitutional law that the establishment clause is not violated just because public money finds its way to a religious institution. So while DC supporting local Catholic schools directly might be a problem, parents using public money to pay for tuition at those schools is not.

It may sound like an artificial distinction, but there's nothing in the Constitution that says public money can't find its way to religious hands. The question is whether that = "a law respecting the establishment of religion," and the courts have held that in many cases it does not.

One could argue that if even one cent of taxpayer money winds up in the hands of a school that's run by a religious organization, then that = a law respecting the establishment of religion. And many have made that argument. But they haven't been successful.

As I recall, the courts have said that it's OK for citizens to use funds they receive from public sources to pay for tuition at private, even religious, schools, just as it's OK for the government to fund social programs operated by churches or to contract with religious organizations for services (like hospitals).

In short, the "wall" that is commonly believed to separate church and state (and which isn't mentioned in the Constitution -- the term comes from one of Jefferson's letters I believe; still a big gun, of course, but not the actual Constitution itself) doesn't exist. It's more like a trench with lots of bridges over it.

Posted by: dcpost1 | February 8, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Fred Hiatt the real question is why do all of the Jewish neo-cons who work for the Washington Post editorial page hate the first African American President of the United States? Do you require your neo-non posse to write a quota of hateful rants against the President?

You give the old racist Krauthammer a platform to spew hate and vitriol at the President along with Gerson and the other Jewish neo-ncons at the Post who seem to have "hate the President rallies".

Are you really just another bigot in disguise Hiatt who hated the President the moment you laid eyes on him? What's with the Washington Post neo-con opinion writers all consuming hatred for the President? Is this a Jewish thing?

Posted by: DCSage1 | February 8, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

And you wonder why blacks still keep voting democRAT.

Posted by: cschotta1 | February 8, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Weak arguments Mr Hiatt.

The biggest reason that vouchers should not be supported is the little part in the constitution about the separation of church and state. Since well over 90% of the schools that vouchers will pay for are religious (mostly catholic) institutions, vouchers directly use taxpayer money to fund religious institutions. This is a violation of the constitution and should not be allowed.

Posted by: johnqpublic1 | February 8, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, I lived for three years in the District from 2004-2008. The day I moved to Maryland was a very happy day. I have never lived in a community where I paid more taxes for less service. If you don't like where your child must attend, sell and leave, it is your only hope, besides it is unlikely you will move to a place where people are regularly shot to death outside your building. oh wait there are no guns in DC. I must have been mistaken about the shop owners who died in the block I lived in.

Posted by: jason33 | February 8, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Why is Obama killing D.C.'s vouchers?

Uhmmmm Sparky! Our country is almost bankrupt!


Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | February 8, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Blert, what "mental gymnastics" does it take to say that using taxes to pay for kids to go to Catholic schools is a violation of the separation of church & state? It seems pretty evident to me, without any gymnastics at all. What argument would you use to bolster your contention that it DOESN'T violate the separation?

Posted by: bigfish2 | February 8, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry but it doesn't violate the separation between church and state. On top of that they subsidize all or it would be discrimination. The issue is that the tax payer should not be subsidizing education when or tax dollars provide an education system. If some what's to send their child to a school that they feels is better that's fine. But you need to be able to afford it. Public education is available to all and 80% of us we're educated through this system. It's what you make of it.

Posted by: askgees | February 8, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

And then there's this article on WaPo:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/08/AR2010020803671.html?hpid=moreheadlines

There is no accountability. Read past the know allegations to how much is NOT known about abusive teachers in the DC public schools. Faced with a year with an abusive teacher and a unresponsive administration, who wouldn't want a voucher for a better education?? There are DC schools that are a complete disgrace. If the schools in DC *were* all equal to say, Janney, then there wouldn't be a need for vouchers now, would there?

Posted by: dahozho | February 8, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Teachers in private schools don't need unions to protect them. Children in private schools don't need unionized mediocrity. Public schools harbor the worst teachers, especially in the District, who couldn't get jobs anywhere else. And we wonder why teacher unions oppose vouchers for those children fortunate enough to get them and break the cycle of failure?

Posted by: SavingGrace | February 8, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama is in bed with the teachers union. That is the reason. The union wants to keep their monopoly on education.

Posted by: FredKnowsBest | February 8, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

We should not fund private schools, especially religious schools. If there were a way to prevent any money from going to any religious school, I might reconsider.

Posted by: streff | February 8, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Catholic, private and charter schools are no better than public schools, and in many cases are much worse. They often use uncertified teachers. They pay teachers 1/4 less than public schools. They spend time in many cases on cr.ap courses like religion. In many cases, corporal punishment is used.

No public funding for private schools. None.

Posted by: snortz_the_cat | February 8, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Dcpost1: A thoughtful response to my argument, & (thankfully) one of the few on this thread that that isn't the usual standing on the soapbox & pounding one's chest & yelling. I'll concede that the wall is porous. Students can certainly use federally-guaranteed student loans to pay tuition at Notre Dame or Boston College or Georgetown or Augustana or North Carolina Wesleyan or Liberty University, ad infinitum. But those students are college-age, & hopefully have learned how to evaluate -- and place in prespective -- whatever religious instruction those institutions require them to take. I would submit that a kindergartner is a little more susceptible to swallowing whatever is fed him or her. If the wall is indeed a trench, this is one bridge that should not be built.

Posted by: bigfish2 | February 8, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

This bit of news does not bode well for the overhaul of the NCLB act.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 8, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

How about this crazee reason? The majority of DC residents oppose it. The program was shoved down the throats of the citizens by a Republican majority Congress who used the city as a lab rat for one of it's pet causes. If you want to use DC funds for vouchers, put it up for a vote of the voting residents.

Posted by: janowicki | February 8, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Obama is the puppet that white liberal Democrats have prayed for, to use to forever keep blacks on the democratic liberal plantation. Democrats are the party of slavery, the KKK, and they use their puppet (Obama) to get uneducated blacks to follow.

The health care bill that democrats are proposing is not about providing health care, its about taking by force the property of working Americans, their money. Democrats don't give a damn about the health care of Blacks. They cannot even fix schools that they have been in control of for generations. If they can't provide a good school system how in the hell can they provide good health care?

Liberals need and must have a populace uneducated so that they can take their money. The Democrats have to keep everyone (but their kids) in public schools to keep them dumb and dependent. Most in public schools don't know any history, especially the wrongs against Blacks by Democrats. I personally know a person with a Masters who thinks Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat. Unbelievable!

I have no doubt that the Democrats will throw Obama under the bus if they can get the health care bill passed. If the bill gets passed they have no use for him, because they will have the people's money.

Posted by: JeffreyM23 | February 8, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Edlharris, your numbers on St. Thomas More, etc. are helpful to my argument about church/state separation, but I can't tell whether you intend them to be ;-)

Posted by: bigfish2

bigfish2, I'm just pointing out a fact.
Take it as you want.
You can read more at:
http://www.cathstan.org/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=21&ArticleID=3274&TM=82852.96
This is from the Catholic Standard, the newspaper of the Washington archdiocese.

Posted by: edlharris | February 8, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I say that my tax dollars can be used by any parent to send their kid to the school of their choice. We can think for ourselves and free people can make this decision, in spite of what liberals and democrats think.

I did not know that General Grant had the power to settle anything. Congress passes laws not presidents.

Posted by: JeffreyM23 | February 8, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

JeffreyM23, there's so much mis-information & distortion in every sentence of your first post that I hardly know which one to address. But I'll start with this. I live in Arlington, VA -- one of the most strongly Democratic jurisdictions in America. We also have, by every measurable standard, one of the best public school systems in America -- a public school system that's also one of the most ethnically & economically diverse. How does that jibe with your statement that "Liberals need & must have a populace uneducated so that they can take their money."? Liberals control our school system, & we happily & proudly send our kids to our schools.

Posted by: bigfish2 | February 8, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

bammie votes against DC vouchers for four reasons:
1. he has no soul, morals, or integrity;
2. he is owned, lock, stock and barrel by the unions;
3. he truly does not care about poor, black people; and,
4. he needs American blacks to beeternally poor, uneducated, AIDS-riddled, imprisoned 'victims' who will always be dependent on his party's hand-outs.

Posted by: 2xy4k9 | February 9, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Like it or not...."designing" your child's education through the flexibility of school vouchers is the future.

The dinosaur of the big money sucking institutionalized Dept of Education is soon to be extinct!

Good riddance!

Posted by: Rubiconski | February 9, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

How can Republicans support school vouchers when they preach against socialism so strongly?

They can because socialism isn't socialism when republicans redistribute wealth to the wealthy. These school programs take tax dollars of all Americans to pay for the education of few children. While noble, it is impratical. There aren't enough space nor vouchers available to make a real difference to DC kids.

This is nothing more than a subsidy for the private schools and filling their class rooms. Who has conducted the study that says that these chidren are doing better than they would have in their neighborhood school.

To fix education it should be evenly distributed. Access for all not for the chosen few. Put the voucher money in the school system to improve learning opportunities for all students.

Posted by: justonevoice | February 9, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Institutionalized education is socialism.

Vouchers are freedom.

Freedom to maximize your child's potential.

Posted by: Rubiconski | February 9, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Institutionalized education is socialism.

Vouchers are freedom.

Freedom to maximize your child's potential
-----------------------
What? Who do you thin pay for these vouchers? It is not the citizens of the District it is the citizens of America!

This is just a way for the Republicans to channel government money to their children's schools. The District has how many students? Of the thousands you supply vouchers for 1700 or so and you call that freedom of choice? No my friend that is a lottery!

Posted by: justonevoice | February 9, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

About fifteen year back, Louisiana was spending $8,000 per student in public school, and we were ranked 46th in the nation. . . . ! Heck at the time, you could have gotten into a fairly decent private school for about $6,000. Louisiana could have saved a lot of money with the voucher system. And vastly improved it's standing in education.

Posted by: Here2day | February 9, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

The democrat party would never survive if big blocks of their voters were actually educated. Union bosses and democrats want their folks dumb. Dumb and dependent. It's even better when the dumb and dependent want to be dumb and dependent ... they eventually join the teachers' union.

Posted by: jpfann | February 9, 2010 3:00 AM | Report abuse

Why? Because he has to cave in to the teacher unions, who have no interest in actually teaching. And because the Dem party needs a reliable pool of dumbed-down blacks to keep voting them into office. Wouldn't do to alllow them to get a decent education and find out how they've been scammed for decades.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | February 9, 2010 3:19 AM | Report abuse

This is a good example of a cut in government spending that Republicans support unless it's one of their pet projects.

Posted by: HFNY | February 9, 2010 4:36 AM | Report abuse

"The biggest reason that vouchers should not be supported is the little part in the constitution about the separation of church and state."

Are you a DC public school alumni?

Because clearly, you have no idea what separation of church and state means.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | February 9, 2010 4:46 AM | Report abuse

School vouchers, courtesy of the government? My, that smacks of Socialism! (And please, keep the government out of my Medicare and Social Security.)

Hiatt is a moron.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 9, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

Institutionalized education is socialism.

Vouchers are freedom.

Freedom to maximize your child's potential.

Posted by: Rubiconski | February 9, 2010 12:28 AM |
------------------------------------------

"Vouchers" are freedom? Where do you think the money for vouchers comes from? The taxpayer. I, for one, do not want my tax dollars to finance vouchers. Especially not if that money goes to religious schools.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 9, 2010 5:41 AM | Report abuse

bigifsh2: "But I'll start with this. I live in Arlington, VA -- one of the most strongly Democratic jurisdictions in America. We also have, by every measurable standard, one of the best public school systems in America -- a public school system that's also one of the most ethnically & economically diverse"

Hey Bigfish2, it does appear that liberal democrats can fix schools, but only in areas where there are a majorities of whites. I never said that liberals and democrats hate White people! That's the only group that they want to succeed. If this were not true, schools in DC would be the best in the world. What are the test scores of schools were there are majorities of blacks and minorities in Arlington and the rest of the nation? Can you focus on that? What are the test scores in areas where there is a majorities of blacks? You happen to conveniently pick the one area of our country where they have not had enough time to destroy yet. Liberals are like a plague of locust, give them enough time they will destroy any area with their failed policies and move on .

In all major urban areas in the United States where democrats control the schools, test scores are low and crime is high and you being one of the people I spoke about, blame Republicans and usually there is not one Republican on any council or board!

Black young men and women are not getting educations. They grow up, and they are not prosperous members of our society, filling up jails and committing crimes against their neighbors. The DC government is not busing in juries from Potomac and Virginia to put black young women and male in jail, the citizens are doing it. By the time black children reach their teens and twenties, other blacks are ready to put them in jail for life because of their history of crime, and liberals and democrats don't give a damn. All of this could be fixed if they did, because as you say, they do have an example of an excellent couple of schools where they live, where blacks are not the majority. Blacks are not being educated in America, and in the big scheme of things, democrats don't really have a problem with it. Building jails is just another reason to tax hard working Americans Address that! My Bad "Its Bush's fault"

Posted by: JeffreyM23 | February 9, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

If we allow vouchers, the publik techer unions would actually have to do the job they are hired to do--educate students--instead of looking for ways to enrich themself at taxpayer expense.

Teacher unions = liberal greed = Democrats.

Posted by: hartwr1 | February 9, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Reminder to all who refer to the Constitution's "separation of church and state" clause. There is no such thing. The actual wording is "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" Pretty clear and concise to me.....why are so many so confused about this?

Posted by: hit4cycle | February 9, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

teachers unions should be outlawed, educators are supposed to serve the public, not themselves

it's not just the District, in Fairfax County, they're cutting $61 million of programs in order to increase pension contributions by $71 million, even the GOP legislators like Comstock and Rust are too chicken to ask teachers to increase their share of their retirement funding from its current level of zero

Posted by: tgt111 | February 9, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

@Gatsby 10 I don't want my tax dollars financing someone else's retirement, especially when they can stop working at 55 and collect 80% of their salary, all while getting 10 years of paid health until Medicare kicks in

Posted by: tgt111 | February 9, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Your proposed research design won't establish whether vouchers improve the public schools. They compare two groups of students who applied for vouchers -- those who got them and those who didn't.

This will tell you nothing about the core claim of voucher advocates, that vouchers force public schools to compete and so they improve across the board.

Posted by: mainer2 | February 9, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

First of all, let's get something straight. It is NOT the Teachers' Unions' FAULT. It's OBAMA. This is a FEDERAL PROGRAM. And, WHO is in charge of the 'FEDEREAL' stuff? Barak Hussein Obama. Mmmmmmmmm, Mmmmmmmm, Mmmmmmmmm.
He's for the POOR. He's for the DOWNTRODDEN. He's for the MINORITIES. And he's AGAINST the SPECIAL INTERESTS.
Let's see. In the ILLINOIS STATE SENATE, he VOTED 3 TIMES, to deny funding, so that LITTLE BABIES, who survived the ABORTIONISTS' KNIFE, could receive MEDICAL TREATMENT. And what did he get for condemning these children to DIE, ALONE, in some STORAGE ROOM? He got PLANNED PARENTHOOD MONEY. He got NARAL MONEY.
He,and his Party, PREVENT US from getting OUR OWN RESCOURCES out of the ground. Keeping us HOSTAGE to the PSYCHOS of the world for our ENERGY, and keeping prices HIGH. And what does he get in return? He gets his pockets filled, with ENVIRONMENTALISTS' MONEY. The SAME Environmentalists, who've been 'MAKING IT UP', when it comes to their CLIMATE CHANGE GARBAGE.
But he's "AGAINST SPECIAL INTEREST LOBBYISTS". He's "POST PARTISAN", and he's "POST RACIAL". (Question: He's POST RACIAL? Can ANYONE give me an explanation, why the BLACK PANTHERS were given a GET OUTTA JAIL FREE CARD? He did it, because he's a BROTHA. Period) And, don't forget: He's like the Statue Of Liberty. "Give me your tired, huddled masses, yearning to be free." Except HIS Plaque reads more like" Give me your MONEY. SHOW ME THE MONEY! I eat KOBE BEEF and IRANIAN CAVIAR, and Flutes of CHAMPAGNE for lunch, And I needs me some MONEY!
So, don't blame the Teachers' Union. They didn't do anything. They can't FORCE him to do anything. He DID IT himself. He DID IT because HE WANTED TO. You see, The BUCK Stops with HIM. Apparently, a LOT OF BUCK$, stop with him. And so do a lot of DREAMS.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | February 9, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

No one would argue that the purpose of an auto workers union is to build a better car. Its purpose is to get more money an benefits for auto workers.

So let's stop this silly notion that the purpose of a teachers union is to produce better students. These unions exist to get more money and benefits for teachers, often at the expense of the students they're supposed to be teaching.

Look at the best private schools in the country and ask what their teachers DON'T have: no unions, no tenure (they work on year-to-year contracts), and no useless degrees in education.

Figure it out for yourself.

Posted by: Hk45 | February 9, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

You are asking why Union Barack Obama opposes school vouchers? Have I got that right?

Posted by: hz9604 | February 9, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Good shut them down.

Until people realize that as long as they want to PAY LITTLE OR NO TAXES then our school systems will suffer and our kids will stay dumb as rocks.

You don't want to pay taxes then don't biatch when schools close, roads aren't plowed, response times for emergency and police times are longer and on and on.

You ask for lower taxes, well this is what happens.

Posted by: kare1
===
Let's start with an error: we DO pay taxes. In 2008, tax receipts were $2.65 trillion, only $210 billion less than the entire GDP of France ($2.86 T). We ain't talkin' peanuts here, friend. The problem isn't that Americans don't pay, or don't want to pay taxes, the problem is what government spends it on, and how.

We'll leave the social spending and entitlements alone, for the moment, although they account for 60% of all federal expenses. We can use education as a fair example of how poorly government spends money.

How much do you think the federal government invested in Abe Lincoln's education? Try, $0. His formal education consisted of 18 months of one-room schoolhouse instruction - less than a third-grade education, using the current school year for comparison. Read his speeches. How may BAs - or even MAs, for that matter - write as well? How much money do you think a BA represents, from pre-school through 4 years of college?

If there were a necessary correlation between dollars spent per pupil and an excellent education, Lincoln would never have graduated from splitting logs into fence rails. And he's just one example for whom the record is easy to find.

Native intelligence certainly has quite a lot to do with how people like Lincoln come to be, but just as much, if not more is due to values taught at home. People who live among other people for whom critical thinking is a high value and indispensable skill also come to value critical thinking as a high value and indispensable skill. Central to the capacity for critical thinking is information - you may call it, "education." The example of Lincoln proves that all one needs to be educated is great desire and access to books (Lincoln borrowed as many as he could from anyone who had any he hadn't already read). How expensive is that?

As for the desire to learn, it's people like you who negate it. If education equals money, you don't need to care about education. Just bump up taxes, spend lots of money on teachers, computers and buildings, and education should happen all by itself, right?

Read the stats. Wrong.

Posted by: dryrunfarm1 | February 9, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

It's simple. The less educated the people are, the more likely they are to vote Democrat. The only ones who need to know how to read or think are the children of the elite. So, Obama's kids go to a good school. Your kids get vocational training to get them ready for shovel ready jobs.

Posted by: NormReisig | February 9, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Precisely why Washington should have much less to say about education of young people, a local matter that should be administered locally.

Obviously, the exactly correct answer to the question posed is that the teachers' unions do not want vouchers and the Obama administration caters to the union influence.

Posted by: BobThompson | February 9, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Vouchers? Sounds like someone is a lottery winner. What happens to the people that did not win the lottery? It seems like more people lose than win. We need all winners not just a select few.

Posted by: artg | February 9, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

We need a country where everyone is above average.

Thank you.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 9, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Why is Obama killing American economy, American manufacturing, American statehood, American education, any trust in him as a leader and president, etc.? There is the only one answer to all questions. The completely wrong guy was elected to White House in November. This is the tragic answer, but the fully truthful one

Posted by: aepelbaum | February 9, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Concerning vouchers and parents' choice, Obama is following the axiom that "to save the village, you have to first destroy it."

What a vile person he's turned out to be.

Posted by: SUBLIMEWOODY | February 9, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I am a very highly qualified teacher of mathematics. I have the best possible training in mathematical education, the best experience, and the best recommendations. I have also all required officially in USA credentials to teach in Illinois, where I have been residing for almost twenty years.
Students were failing all tests, fully non qualified teachers have not known how to teach them. My books on the subject, which I donated to nearby public library and which were purchased by few other libraries in Illinois, were and are in such demand and no other pertinent book. Always out of shelves, always on waiting list, etc. I have been not allowed to teach within this entire while of twenty years. Why didn't Obama and his jungle dweller of a wife change this situation on the direct behalf of generations of the future, about whom both of them liked to talk so much? Once again, the answer is the same. We elected in November of 2008 the fully wrong family to lead this country.

Posted by: aepelbaum | February 9, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Some voucher opponents are simply union members opposed to any competition for the public schools. Others oppose vouchers because they help religious schools. Other opponents will fight any “conservative” or Republican initiative.

But a few opponents don’t fall into any of those groups, and have actually listened to the parents and kids who have benefitted from the program, and also realized that vouchers harm no one except incomeptent teachers and administrators. Those people (such as the President) who have learned the truth and then still oppose vouchers are committing an immoral, despicable act. Have you no shame?

Posted by: wvwisdom | February 9, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Both Obamas, by the way, are themselves just barely educated. Especially she, as her absence of the proper background shows itself clearly in her choice of almost always improper outfits, and other details. That is why they are afraid of competition in any area for themselves and for their children. That is why they are trying to suppress their fellow-citizens, who, by the way, elected them to White House, as much as they only could.

Posted by: aepelbaum | February 9, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Vouchers and charter schools work. Big city public schools don't. Teacher unions focus on job security and pensions, not kids.

What's the cost to society to have another lost generation that ends up on the government dole or in jail or both?

Many commenters who are against vouchers don't seem to give a damn about the kids. Shameful, as is the President's policy towards vouchers.

Posted by: mowjoe | February 9, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Simple answer Fred!

To protect the Union movement, and keep elite schools sheltered from the masses so his children can get proper attention!!

The most dangerous gap in this nation is that between educated elites and public school children.

The left is actually attempting to dumb down the masses. Idiots are easier to control with propaganda!!!


Posted by: jjcrocket2 | February 9, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I just need to respond to the following comment:

"How about this crazee reason? The majority of DC residents oppose it. The program was shoved down the throats of the citizens by a Republican majority Congress who used the city as a lab rat for one of it's pet causes. If you want to use DC funds for vouchers, put it up for a vote of the voting residents.

Posted by: janowicki | February 8, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse"


Apparently, janowicki hasnt talked to the people actually IN the program. All of them poor and minority. All of whom LOVE the program. This is a shining example of favors to the teachers union by Obama and DICK Durbin!

Posted by: vrbjunk | February 9, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I see someone has already noted that you omitted that little detail about government provided vouchers paying for religious schools which would directly violate the separation of church and state statutes.

Did I accidentally stumble onto the Faux News website? Oh no... it's just Fred Hiatt...

Posted by: CardFan | February 9, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I think the bottom line is that the DC Voucher program is a workaround that can never work for the majority of the District's children. Rather than waste money on a program that benefits about a thousand kids, invest in the public schools. Well done to those opposing the scheme.

Posted by: terencef100 | February 9, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

While closing this voucher opportunity is unfortunate, another option DC students have is to apply to the Friendship Charter Schools in DC, where students are achieving significant data-based improvement in curricular proficiencies compared to similar neighborhood schools in some of the most challenging areas in the District.

Posted by: tcherjohn | February 9, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

As an independent voter, I will NEVER vote for a Democrat who put the intersts of teachers unions ahead of the interest of poor kids

Posted by: TJ44 | February 9, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Obama can't be bending to the teachers unions, because he came to DC to fight against special interests.

I'm tired of Republicans not acknowledging the change he has brought to this town. With the union carve-out in the health bill, not to mention the Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback, he is not conducting business as Washington politicians have done traditionally, but how Chicago thugs have.

Posted by: TGT11 | February 9, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

God forbid precious little Sasha and Malika (or whatever the hel- their names are) should have to step foot into a public school system. They might have to rub elbows with the rest of the unwashed.

Posted by: birvin9999 | February 9, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Could it be that VOUCHERS DON'T WORK?>??????? That coupled with the obvious violations of spearation of church and state since almost all the vouchers go into the coffers of the Catholic church. I know that Opus Dei gang of five have no problem with that, but there may be a slight conflict of interest in their reasoning. Something about being activist judges....

So three cheers for ending vouchers. Three more if he figures out that Charters are a waste of time too.

Posted by: John1263 | February 8, 2010 6:50 PM

-------------

The preceding message was brought to you courtesy of the NEA underperformers society!

Posted by: UncomfortableTruths | February 9, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Washington Teachers Union is behind this White House position. More ineffective DC teachers need to be fired to make room for new ones who have not given up on the kids and who know how to teach. And, to keep the good ones we have. WTU is the key reason why DC is not competing for Race to the Top Funds; wasting up to $75 m illion we could have had. The WTU bosses are piggish, hurting the kids just to get their salaries and pensions, blocking evaluation of teachers so we can continue to weed the bad ones. Finally, whaddya make of the 220 teacher-abusing-kids incidents last year that were reported to police? Makes ya wonder about all the criticism of Rhee getting rid of the bad teachers, doesn't it?

Posted by: axolotl | February 9, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Cardfan: Can you tell the rest of us where to find your so called "separation of church and state statutes?"

It's very obvious to us that you have studied and mastered The United States Constitution, is it in there?

Posted by: JeffreyM23 | February 9, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Why?
Because the teachers union does not want to take any responsibility for the current failure rate in DC. What if the plan grows? That is frightening for the unions. Imagine unions losing power to the parents......Who cares about the kids, the unions are the ones that vote for Obama.

Posted by: greglaycharternet | February 9, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

The author cites no evidence in their article about the Obama administration doing *anything*. The article itself seems like it was written by a junior high school student. Yuck.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | February 9, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

One argument you should make is freedom. Vouchers give people freedom to act. Vouchers take power away from the central authorities and return it to the citizens.

The Tea Party people will control Congress next year. The freedom argument will be persuasive with them.

Posted by: jy151310 | February 9, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Ah looking back at the author's previous pieces, I sense a common theme: Obama obsession. This horrible article makes more sense now.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | February 9, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"The Tea Party people will control Congress next year."

The Teabaggers couldn't even hold a convention properly. You make me laugh.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | February 9, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Of course, we wouldn't want to offend the unions, provide choice, have proof that private schools do a better job for less money or most of all break the chains that enslave the poor into perpetually voting for victimhood over empowerment.

Posted by: no_USSA | February 9, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"The less educated the people are, the more likely they are to vote Democrat."

Except facts disagree with you. But then as a disgusting piece of Right Wing filth, you hate facts.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | February 9, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

We should give all Right Wingers vouchers so they can be home schooled and continue that great learnin' that has allowed them to maintain GOP greatness.

Errrrrrrrrrr

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | February 9, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Vouchers provide, but no oversight. It's hard to imagine government dollars being spent without the government's input regarding the quality of service that is rendered.

Under a voucher program, can the funding government provide regulations regarding curriculum? Not if it's a private school, I imagine.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 9, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

*vouchers provide funding, but no oversight.

Ugh.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 9, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"The less educated the people are, the more likely they are to vote Democrat."

Except facts disagree with you. But then as a disgusting piece of Right Wing filth, you hate facts.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah |

One fact is known! Unpluggedboodah verified the first quote.

Posted by: JeffreyM23 | February 9, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The teacher unions are just that -- unions.

They (NEA, AFT) don't care any more about the quality of education in public schools than the UAW has ever cared about the quality of cars coming out of Detroit. The teacher unions care about wages, job security, working conditions and benefits. Their leadership also cares about a variety of non-education issues associated with broader left-wing politics. But they don't care a whit whether children emerge from the public schools with a head full of rocks.

If you forget that even for a moment, you lose the plot in "education reform."

Posted by: barker3320 | February 9, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Why is this article "horrible", unpluggedboodah? I am from Illinois, I have been fighting for Obama's election, as a crazy one, to be only fully tricked and offended without any sense and against the obvious behalf of the country and the support of the basic common sense. There is overwhelming majority of Americans, who share this sentiment. I have never been obsessed with any of Obamas, and, surely, never would. I am only obsessed with the steady damage they are bringing to all areas of American life, instead of what they were expected to and elected to. And I am very sad about it.

Posted by: aepelbaum | February 9, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Why? Why? It is really simple, in a service oriented economy you only need two classes the rich and the poor. And guess how much better the rich live if their entitlement hounds are also dumber than a broken door knob? Much better.

Face it, neither party cares abot you, your education, nor your family - all they want is for you to blindly follow their mantra and give up your freedoms.

The problem is you liberals are so upscale and snobbish you cannot see how you are being used.

Posted by: zendrell | February 9, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the Democratic Party, and the teachers union leaders who support it, would rather not see any more evidence.
=======================================
Duh.

Every parent should have the power to choose the best schools for their children, not just the economic and political elite.

Posted by: ZZim | February 9, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse


Inner city children from larger cities go to Catholic Schools not only for a better education, but also for a safer environment.

This may also be the case with other accredited religious schools.

Years ago, you had to be Catholic and receive the Sacrements to attend Catholic schools. But with Catholics leaving the city for the suburbs, the Catholic schools faced with decreasing enrollment, have had to open their doors to other children.

I went to a public school in a large city and I would compare notes with students who went to Catholic School. They would always be 6 months to a year ahead of the public curricula. Not to mention their beautiful handwriting skills.

But by high school graduation, the public schools would close the gap with the Catholic Schools. It was amazing.

I remember when we would receive a new student in our class, in more cases than not, it was because they were kicked out of Catholic school for failing grades and/or behavior.

The Catholic school children always had the threat of being sent to public schools if they didn't pass their final exams each year. Some students were absolutely petrified, which we public school students found amusing.


Posted by: janet8 | February 9, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

this is where ideology takes over and common sense is pushed out. With vouchers you have a program that will help students right now, but Obama would rather see them fail to prove appoint and appease the party faithful.

It should be noted that Obama's own children go to Sidwell. It's fine to take away the opportunity of a good education from kids, as long as they're not his.

Posted by: ajsja | February 9, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

For all the mental midgets who keep saying "public dollars shouldn't fund private schools", I ask the question "Why Not?"

It is the taxpayers money in the first place. It is the parents of these children who fund public coffers. Why should they not be able to take their contribution and use it for a better eduaction for their children.

People who argue against at least seeing the scientific evidence that vouchers will produce show their true colors. They honestly care about maintaining a system that fits in their own world view "utopia" where public financed monopoly education is the best and only model.

Posted by: truth5 | February 9, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Replying to bigfish2 (and perhaps others): You say one important reason to oppose vouchers is that some of the families might CHOOSE to have their children educated in a (gasp!) CATHOLIC school. This leads me to a couple of questions. First is why are you against FREE CHOICE? I suppose you would think it fine if the parents chose a science-oriented school or an arts-oriented school, but freely choosing a religious school is a problem? No one is proposing FORCING these parents to send their children to Catholic schools (unlike the teachers unions seeking to force all to attend the government's schools.) The second question is which would you rather have as an outcome: a child who can't read or do arithmetic well enough to hold a job but who has been (praise be!) spared the horror of hearing about religion or a child who can read and can do arithmetic and can hold a job but who was taught something about faith and morals? Which of these outcomes do you prefer?

Posted by: DeeBee9 | February 9, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Good shut them down.

Until people realize that as long as they want to PAY LITTLE OR NO TAXES then our school systems will suffer and our kids will stay dumb as rocks.

You don't want to pay taxes then don't biatch when schools close, roads aren't plowed, response times for emergency and police times are longer and on and on.

You ask for lower taxes, well this is what happens.

Posted by: kare1 | February 8, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse
---
typical liberal. Only money solves problems. Not new ideas, not different ways of applying the same amount of money.

Again, typical liberal reply. More money, otherwise its all your fault. And even when there is more money, ITS NEVER ENOUGH.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | February 9, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Your Dear Leader Obama knows what best for you and your children!

He demands that all poor children go to public school, even if there is evidence that more effective options exist. He demands that your family participate in a public health insurance option, even if we must dismantle the most successful health system in the world.

Our Dear Leader could care less about outcomes, he wants health care, energy, education all controlled by the government so he can demand that those who want health care, energy, or education use overpaid, ineffective union labor to deliver these basic services. This while those who pay the bills and create the wealth in this country take pay cuts and lose their jobs.

Our Dear Leader has developed an entire agenda aimed at extending unaffordable promises made by a bankrupt federal government; he will require middle class families to pay MUCH MORE for health care, energy or education.

Americans now realize that they cannot improve their lives by sending more money to Washington. Over the next decade we will witness the wholesale dismantling of the money and slush pit that is our federal government.

Posted by: ELFopportunity | February 9, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Freedom of choice is a good.

Vouchers offer choice.

Choice provides opportunity.

Look around for some more of the antichoice policies made by governments at the insistance of of one group or another. Consider the card check legislation which denies the opportunity to vote without the coercion potential of someone in your face.

Freedom. Choice. Respect them, enlarge them.

Posted by: sbcpoet | February 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

First of all, let's get something straight. It is NOT the Teachers' Unions' FAULT. It's OBAMA. This is a FEDERAL PROGRAM. And, WHO is in charge of the 'FEDEREAL' stuff? Barak Hussein Obama. Mmmmmmmmm, Mmmmmmmm, Mmmmmmmmm.
He's for the POOR. He's for the DOWNTRODDEN. He's for the MINORITIES. And he's AGAINST the SPECIAL INTERESTS.
Let's see. In the ILLINOIS STATE SENATE, he VOTED 3 TIMES, to deny funding, so that LITTLE BABIES, who survived the ABORTIONISTS' KNIFE, could receive MEDICAL TREATMENT. And what did he get for condemning these children to DIE, ALONE, in some STORAGE ROOM? He got PLANNED PARENTHOOD MONEY. He got NARAL MONEY.
He,and his Party, PREVENT US from getting OUR OWN RESCOURCES out of the ground. Keeping us HOSTAGE to the PSYCHOS of the world for our ENERGY, and keeping prices HIGH. And what does he get in return? He gets his pockets filled, with ENVIRONMENTALISTS' MONEY. The SAME Environmentalists, who've been 'MAKING IT UP', when it comes to their CLIMATE CHANGE GARBAGE.
But he's "AGAINST SPECIAL INTEREST LOBBYISTS". He's "POST PARTISAN", and he's "POST RACIAL". (Question: He's POST RACIAL? Can ANYONE give me an explanation, why the BLACK PANTHERS were given a GET OUTTA JAIL FREE CARD? He did it, because he's a BROTHA. Period) And, don't forget: He's like the Statue Of Liberty. "Give me your tired, huddled masses, yearning to be free." Except HIS Plaque reads more like" Give me your MONEY. SHOW ME THE MONEY! I eat KOBE BEEF and IRANIAN CAVIAR, and Flutes of CHAMPAGNE for lunch, And I needs me some MONEY!
So, don't blame the Teachers' Union. They didn't do anything. They can't FORCE him to do anything. He DID IT himself. He DID IT because HE WANTED TO. You see, The BUCK Stops with HIM. Apparently, a LOT OF BUCK$, stop with him. And so do a lot of DREAMS.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | February 9, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

First of all, let's get something straight. It is NOT the Teachers' Unions' FAULT. It's OBAMA. This is a FEDERAL PROGRAM. And, WHO is in charge of the 'FEDEREAL' stuff? Barak Hussein Obama. Mmmmmmmmm, Mmmmmmmm, Mmmmmmmmm.
He's for the POOR. He's for the DOWNTRODDEN. He's for the MINORITIES. And he's AGAINST the SPECIAL INTERESTS.
Let's see. In the ILLINOIS STATE SENATE, he VOTED 3 TIMES, to deny funding, so that LITTLE BABIES, who survived the ABORTIONISTS' KNIFE, could receive MEDICAL TREATMENT. And what did he get for condemning these children to DIE, ALONE, in some STORAGE ROOM? He got PLANNED PARENTHOOD MONEY. He got NARAL MONEY.
He,and his Party, PREVENT US from getting OUR OWN RESCOURCES out of the ground. Keeping us HOSTAGE to the PSYCHOS of the world for our ENERGY, and keeping prices HIGH. And what does he get in return? He gets his pockets filled, with ENVIRONMENTALISTS' MONEY. The SAME Environmentalists, who've been 'MAKING IT UP', when it comes to their CLIMATE CHANGE GARBAGE.
But he's "AGAINST SPECIAL INTEREST LOBBYISTS". He's "POST PARTISAN", and he's "POST RACIAL". (Question: He's POST RACIAL? Can ANYONE give me an explanation, why the BLACK PANTHERS were given a GET OUTTA JAIL FREE CARD? He did it, because he's a BROTHA. Period) And, don't forget: He's like the Statue Of Liberty. "Give me your tired, huddled masses, yearning to be free." Except HIS Plaque reads more like" Give me your MONEY. SHOW ME THE MONEY! I eat KOBE BEEF and IRANIAN CAVIAR, and Flutes of CHAMPAGNE for lunch, And I needs me some MONEY!
So, don't blame the Teachers' Union. They didn't do anything. They can't FORCE him to do anything. He DID IT himself. He DID IT because HE WANTED TO. You see, The BUCK Stops with HIM. Apparently, a LOT OF BUCK$, stop with him. And so do a lot of DREAMS.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | February 9, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Obama is in the pocket of the teachers union. He will turn his back on kids with poor teachers to get the teachers vote.

Posted by: edgar_sousa | February 9, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Why? Because the unions have Obama by the short hairs, that's why and he cares more about the unions' $$$$ than the fate of poor black children. Duh.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 9, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts, and of course I wish we could have an honest conversation. 1) The "public" goes to all the schools, whether privately-funded or tax-payer funded. So the distinction between "public" and "non-public" is unfair and untrue at its foundation. The deeper questions are always been about social/cultural visions that are taught in a particular school. (T.S. Eliot's essays, "The Aims of Education," make the best case for this.) The Obamas know that, so with their financial privilege, they chose Sidwell Friends. Yes, it is disingenuous, even though I fully agree with their longing to have their daughters educated in a way that is consistent with their family's hopes and dreams. We all want that. 2) And it is similarly disingenuous for Arne Duncan, Obama's Education secretary, to administer this closing down of choice in education, when because of financial ability he could make the choice to live in Arlington so that his children would not have to attend DC's schools (his acknowledged reason). 3) Why do Obama and Duncan do this? Life is complex for all of us, but it is plain that they are politically beholden to the NEA, who with religious zeal despise the very idea of choice in education. As with health care reform, at the end of the day the unions rule, and therefore no real reform is possible. There are too many people with financially and politically complicated relationships with Obama for any kind of change-- good word that it is --to take place. He is not the first politician we have known with a dissonance between his political rhetoric and the reality of his politics. And yet, it was his rhetoric that drew so many into what might have been... but will not be.

Posted by: Alwayshobbits | February 9, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Extensive research has already been conducted on the voucher program. Mr. Hiatt is aware of this research – it’s been mentioned before in the Post. The research, conducted by the US education department, clearly shows there is no difference between kids on the voucher program and comparable kids who are not. There are same small advances in reading among voucher kids as in comparable non-voucher kids and there are no differences in math. Please see pages v and vi in the executive summary:

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094050/pdf/20094051.pdf

Thus, there is no logic to support this program -- but this is the editorial page, where logic is not needed.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I have never read an article in any paper supporting the teachers union. As a taxpayer, I resent their high benefits, their immoral pensions, and their job security. I don't really want to pay for it, especially when you read articles about the rubber room and the like. I say get some competition in education - however you have to.

Posted by: MaryOK | February 9, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe the Democratic Party, and the teachers union leaders who support it, would rather not see any more evidence."

Bingo! Give the man a prize.

Posted by: Ollie7 | February 9, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

LOL! It's no mystery why Obama isn't supporting the DC vouchers programme. Why do you think he wears knee pads whenever he's around union officials?

Posted by: plaasjaapie | February 9, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Why is Obama intent on getting rid of the program?

All together now,
Look for the union lable...

Posted by: klent | February 9, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I am a woman 67 years old and the product of a Catholic School education from the time inferred by my age. The charter schools that I have seen televised as successes are almost a duplicate of what I experienced as a student. First there was discipline, back then it just WAS. The average class size 70 students. The nuns were the captive teachers and WE were the captive students. They HAD to achieve. This was their life and except for the few crazies they did one hell of a job. Besides the State tests the Archdiosies (spelling wrong, I know) tested the children every quarter. WE students would run mimiographs of everything we learned that quarter and it was extensive. i.e. grammer( we diagrammed everything), we knew what verbs did nouns etc., compositions were written, turned in, corrected and then re-written until we got it - that is how to compose a sentence, paragraph etc. math we knew division and

mutiplication by 4th grade like we knew our names so that problem solving (we knew the formulas) and algebra later on was usually very easy. We learned it all the old fashioned way - drill, drill, drill,we
LEARNED everything ( I had 5 sons with every NEW education theory down the line - so I know what I'm talking about) WE had Civics, Art and Lit, Geography ( we learned ALL and, of course, knew what countries were where. History - we got it along with the Civics. The only thing we didn't have back then was science. I would like to have known that we ARE all atoms etc. I guess religion took that place - big time. My point is we really did KNOW things back then and if you didn't you were well ....brain dead. And we were poor ... we didn't know it ... everyone was....but we sure had fun the old-fashioned way - walking, skating in the street, every board game
you could think of on all the row-house porches.. other things double
dutch, jacks - and just plain exploring without fear - your neighborhood and all its mysteries. The movies, the shops on the Avenues, etc. It was great. And we were so SMART and didn't even realize it. Capture that today America and you will have it MADE. Another thing, we usually all had our original parents - there were not divorces etc. Not saying there were no marital problems - but the children weren't affected by these problems, at least, that is how it averaged out - on the plus side for them.

Posted by: stepup | February 9, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The logic behind the second argument seems to be: "Well, if we have vouchers, the best and brightest will leave the public schools, and they will have an even better chance against the not-so-bright kids who stay behind".
That I don't get. It seems clear that if you have some talented individuals, we SHOULD be giving them a better education, because these are the individuals most likely to improve EVERYBODY's condition in the long run. Not everyone is a potential Einstein, a potential Steve Jobs or a potential Norman Borlaug (look him up), yet these three people have done WAY MORE for EVERY SINGLE PERSON's way of life than BILLIONS of other people put together. Not everyone is born equal. The role of a Department of Education is not ensuring equality of outcomes, or even equality of opportunity. It is to ensure that everyone reaches as best as they can their own individual potential.
So yes, the Voucher programs benefit those that are typically already gifted. But nobody in society benefits from holding these gifted individuals back.

Posted by: djkeuls | February 9, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Why don't the Teachers' Union support Charter Schools? Why are they against them and why do most democratic politicians go along with them???

Posted by: stepup | February 9, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Gotta feel sorry for the kids that are losing their vouchers...

Posted by: cbl99201 | February 9, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Take care of the poor and take care of the rich and you will get a revolution.

Posted by: MissFit | February 9, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"So yes, the Voucher programs benefit those that are typically already gifted. But nobody in society benefits from holding these gifted individuals back."


Kurt Vonnegut wrote a great short story about a society in which everyone was equal. Those who showed signs of intellectual excellence had a buzzer implanted in their heads that went off periodically, that prevented them from being able to think clearly. Those who were gifted athletically would have a ball and chain attached to their ankles.

Not too different from the education system we have right now, actually.

Posted by: bot_feeder | February 9, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Ah, dug up the old Vonnegut story, it is titled "Harrison Bergeron".


Posted by: bot_feeder | February 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

those with get-up-and-go always did "get-up-and-go"...from runaway slaves to black families leaving housing projects once housing discrimation laws were overturned. no one seemed to have a problem with THAT.

i wonder what my grandparents would have said had some white real estate agent (or some house negro) come up to them, after martin luther king worked so hard to enable them to move out of the projects, and tell my grandparents that they should STAY IN THE PROJECTS because, "not everyone is able to leave right now...we all gotta go together, or not at all."

yeah, i can imagine what my grandparents would have said in response.

parents, don't let these people steal your kids' future. these bureaucrats are looking out for themselves...if it were up to them, jackie robinson and willie mays would still be in the negro leagues for no other reason than all their teammates didn't get an offer from the mlb.

Posted by: KenFromCalifornia | February 9, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama is an arrogant elitist of the highest order. And, he's totally in the pocket of the unions. Plain and simple, no more need be said.....

Posted by: subframer | February 9, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Socialists never like giving the ordinary citizen real choices in his personal life, and vouchers represent a threat to a socialist agenda. A socialist particularly wants students "educated" at a state-run institution. As a socialist at heart, President Obama naturally opposes vouchers.

Posted by: joelammers2000 | February 10, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse

The real irony here is that if President Obama hadn't gone to an elite private school, he probably would have been just another poor black street hustler, like the ones you see on the street corners of Los Angeles, Chicago and D.C. It also speaks volumes that he and members of Congress (as well as a most of the teachers in the D.C. public schools) send their own children to private schools while dooming poor, inner city, minority children to substandard and failing schools.

Posted by: partyanimalken | February 10, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Education vouchers don't violate "the wall of separation between church and state".

When Thomas Jefferson penned that famous phrase there was no public school system as there is today. Today's system of mandatory, state-run mass education was largely set up in the 1920s as a response to immigrants setting up their own schools.

It was the governmental invasion of the educational province of religion that broke down the "wall of separation".

In any case, education vouchers should not be any more controversial than rent vouchers and food vouchers (food stamps) and government payments to church-run hospitals.

Posted by: RomeoHotel | February 10, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"Early research results have been positive -- certainly in terms of parental satisfaction, but also for achievement."

Oh, Fred. Lying to your audience isn't becoming of someone in charge of the editorial pages.

For the overall sample, DC Opportunity recipients scored 1.03 points higher than the control group (606.20 vs. 605.18). Among high school students, results were negative (-1.1 points lower than the control group). No one who reads these results could possibly describe them as "positive"...except maybe someone so desperate to support his point that he would resort to publishing lies.

Posted by: diehardlib | February 10, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

It is refreshing to see an editor of the Washington Post acknowledge that vouchers are an idea whose time has come, even if only as an experiment. The most disturbing comments against Mr. Hiatt's position ignore the purpose of using "public funds" for "private education". The role of the state vis-a-vis education is to assist and support parents in their responsibility, right, and obligation to see tot he education of their children. Taxes are not public funds but only a means to provide support to parents - vouchers give responsible but poor parents additional options, one that the well-to-do can exercise by relocating to a better public school district or enrolling a child in a private school. Vouchers level the playing field, to a degree, giving opportunity to those whose who seek quality education but lack the means to re-locate or pay for private schooling. As for so-called public funds going to church-related schools, once we shift from thinking of the state as the provider and director of education but only as the supporter and assistant of the parents, then any qualms about the parents directing their child/ren to a chruch-related school disappear - we all recognize that it is the right of the parents, not the state, to decide on the religious (or not) upbringing of their children.

Posted by: eduardogsanchez | February 12, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

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