Today's ANN ARBOR NEWS Letters section offered the following:
Voucher proposal will do nothing for public schools
I challenge the Rev. Levon Yuille and any proponent of school vouchers to bring forth a single person involved in the public schools, at any level, who intentionally and knowingly desires to be "rewarded for failure." I don not believe they will ever find that person, because he or she does not exist. The people who serve our public school students are dedicated, hard working, talented individuals who are committed to one of the highest ideals in the United States, a free and equitable education for all.
Larry Lazotte, speaking to participants at the Michigan Association of School Boards Summer Academy, stated the following: "If the achievement data for students from the lowest 5 percent of the economically disadvantaged public school districts in the United States was excluded, the United States would rank second in the world in student achievement scores."
The truth is that these are many of the students which private education has systematically excluded through high tuition costs, selective entrance criteria, parental participation guidelines, ability to learn and behavioral standards.
Proponents of Proposal 1 are championing their cause under the slogan of "parental choice." Parents will not have any more choice under this proposal than they have now.
The choice to admit a student into a private school will remain with that school, regardless of the fact that a parent is in possession of a voucher. Private schools will continue the practice of selective admission of students, based solely upon their established guidelines.
Under this proposal, the establishment of a separate and unequal educational system is assured. [emphasis added].
Public education in the United States can be better, and those directly engaged in public education are dedicated to that improvement. However, the use of public funds to pay for a selective and private educational system will do nothing to improve the public schools.
The success of our nation and the people of our nation are grounded in the free, open and equitable public schools which seek to educate all students, not just a select few.
Tommy G. Burdette Ypsilanti
I'm not sure I concur with the entirety of Burdette's opening paragraph or with the first sentence of the penultimate paragraph as absolute statements. I can attest that there are people teaching in public K-12 schools, AS WELL AS IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, who expect to be rewarded for failure; there are burned-out, cynical teachers and professors all over the place who certainly are just "putting in time and collecting paychecks." I can't attest to what goes on in private K-12 schools, but I'd be shocked if there were NO examples of burn-outs and check-collectors among their faculties.
But that is beside the point. I would enjoy hearing how voucher advocates would refute Burdette's fundamental argument and its extension: that there is NOTHING to stop private schools from pursuing discriminatory practices; that they are not obligated to keep their worst students (academic or behavioral), and that in many cases are free to be as elitist as they want to be, regardless of vouchers. I doubt that a host of kids from the worst sections of Bed-Stuy, Harlem, the South Bronx, Brownsville, or East New York, to name but a few troubled NYC neighborhoods, will be admitted to Nightengale-Bamford, Horace Mann, the Dalton School, or the rest of New York's elite private schools, vouchers or no. ------ Michael Paul Goldenberg Washtenaw Technical Middle College 5900 Bridge Rd #715 LA 230L Ypsilanti, MI 48197 Ann Arbor, MI 48106
effective 10/1/00 -
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