“Vouchers Breathe New Life Into D.C. Catholic Schools,” proclaims a headline in this morning’s Washington Post.
“Tuition Rates, Morals Appeal to Parents,” says the subhead.
The story focuses on St. Benedict the Moor school, a Catholic elementary school in a poor section of Washington that has attracted a number of kids who are in the District’s experimental voucher program.
But St. Benedict the Moor is just one of the Catholic schools that has welcomed voucher students. The Post reports:
“Of the 983 students in the voucher program, which provides federal grants to District children to use toward tuition and fees at private or religious schools, 61 percent are attending Catholic schools — a percentage that is expected to remain roughly the same when the program expands to about 1,600 students this fall.
“Education analysts say it is no surprise that the Archdiocese of Washington schools are so heavily involved in the experiment. Their tuition rates are usually less than the $7,500 maximum that voucher students are allotted, while tuition at the city’s elite private schools is much higher. And several of the Catholic schools are in poor neighborhoods where parents dissatisfied with public schools are most likely to reside.”
The People for the American way, needless to say, is upset by the District’s experiment with vouchers. Catholic schools aren’t willing to release test scores of their kids, and a PAW official is quoted saying that without school-by-school breakdown of test scores, “there is no standard to make the determination whether the private school is any better than the public school they left.”
Well, yes, there is a standard–it’s what the subhead hinted: the parents.
Most parents, rich or poor, want the best for their children. Parents are a much better barometer than tests. They’ll remove their kids from voucher programs if they aren’t getting something better.
The American ideal is a flourishing public school system. But we don’t have that, except in affluent places. So we must start thinking of how to do the best by children.
The real impetus behind the anti-voucher movement is saving the jobs of public school teachers, a big constituent for the Democratic Party. (Good teachers aren’t threatened by good schools–bad ones are. They know that they need tenure to preserve jobs they don’t deserve.)