July 16, 2001
Stick to the relevant merits of plan
A recent opinion concerning school vouchers accuses our state's so-called "liberal democrats" of scuttling the president's voucher plan. However the writer conveniently overlooks the fact many legislators within the president's own party opposed implementation of the voucher program and with ample justification, I might add.
There are many legal and logistical problems associated with school voucher programs. For one thing, they allow taxpayer funds to pay for private religious schools, thus violating the constitutional separation of church and state. Also, by draining essential funding away from public schools, vouchers could spell the end of public education, a bedrock American institution for more than a century. Far from creating the positive qualities of healthy "competition," vouchers would build an uneven playing field and institutionalize a two-tier system of haves and have-nots. Harming public schools to improve private schools hurts individuals, as well as our society as a whole.
Finally, vouchers will hurt most the very places they are supposedly designed to help, poor minority communities, where such a program will assist only the "motivated poor" and leave the dysfunctional majority in schools that have even fewer resources and funds. So much for "leaving no child behind," eh?
It would be preferable for supporters of the voucher program to stick to debating the relevant merits of this proposal and avoid the tendency to engage in partisan muckraking.
Gary Williams, Duvall