Senator says: No exit
Washington, D.C. public schools aren’t good enough for Sen. Mary Landrieu’s children. But she doesn’t want poor parents to get help in getting their kids out of the system. A pro-voucher vote under President Clinton, she’s opposed to D.C. vouchers now that President Bush is pushing them. William McGurn writes in the Wall Street Journal:
Outside the committee’s meeting room last week, nine-year-old Mosiyah Hall, a D.C. public school student himself, politely asked Sen. Landrieu where she sent her own children to school. “Georgetown Day,” came the response, a reference to one of Washington’s most exclusive private schools. Mosiyah’s mother says an obviously agitated Sen. Landrieu then came over to a group of local mothers to explain that a voucher would be no help for them here, because even with the $7,500 voucher this bill offers, they still couldn’t afford Georgetown Day.
If the voucher covered the full amount spent on miseducating D.C. students — $15,000 apiece, says McGurn — parents might be able to afford the ritzier private schools. Georgetown Day tuition ranges from $19,000 to $22,000, depending on grade level, and the school offers financial aid to needy students.
The Washington Scholarship Fund, funded by donations, has helped 1,200 children escape public schools with modest vouchers that pay partial tuition.
In a D.C. school district where two out of every five kids never see a high school diploma, moreover, the kids who started with this program in grade school are now beginning to graduate from high schools, and almost all these are headed to college.
Scholarship recipients are chosen by lottery.
E.J. Dionne asks: If unions are so sure vouchers will fail, why not let experiments prove the case?