Vouchers for everybody?
School-choice proponents should be swinging from the rafters, as voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs are finding their way into more and more states’ statutes—several of which offer aid to middle-class families, not just impoverished ones. But fissions are emerging among the ranks. Some, including Howard Fuller (a diehard voucher supporter and key architect of Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program), see this as a distinct shift away from the social-justice mission of vouchers. No longer will vouchers “help equalize the academic options for children from low-income and working-class families,” warns Fuller. Yet others, like John Norquist, see this expansion as a way to keep middle-class parents in socio-economically integrated neighborhoods even as their children grow to school age. Instead of fleeing to rich suburban districts (often with “private” public schools), these parents would remain in their integrated neighborhoods—stymieing the “system that rewards concentration of the rich in exclusive suburbs segregated from the poor” (Norquist’s words). A sticky debate indeed. While Gadfly supports the expansion of school choice to families in higher income brackets, he can’t help but wonder if the Year of the Funding Cliff is the right time for this idea to come of age.
“School Choice and Urban Diversity,” by John Norquist, Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2011.
“Keep intact the mission of choice program,” by Howard Fuller, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, April 23, 2011.
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