When the Supreme Court decided last week that school vouchers were constitutional, that it was legal for parents whose kids were stuck in bad schools to receive tax credits or government subsidies to send them to private schools, I was glad.
I went to public schools and am proud of it, and there was a time when I was against the whole concept of school vouchers, because I thought they would destroy the school system.
And to me, schools were always more than places our kids learned to read. They provided one of those common experiences, like the old draft army, that tied us together as a nation.
But I came to understand that the common experience of my generation is not the common experience of today's. In too many places, public schooling is an experience shared only by the poor, and too often, they are not even learning to read.
The clincher for me was this: There is a fine group in Washington called the "I Have a Dream Foundation," which helps needy students. From them, I learned that a child can be placed in a good, safe private school for tuition that is considerably less than what the District of Columbia spends per child on students in its system.
Now, how can that be, that a small private school can educate a child for less money than a public school and do it in smaller, cleaner and safer classes? I don't know, but no parent, rich or poor, should have to put up with that.
That is why I believe we should begin pilot programs to test vouchers and any number of other innovative concepts, and the District of Columbia would be a fine place to start. Because what we're doing is not working. We need to find out what does.
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