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Nonetheless, as a candidate and officeholder, Williams called vouchers a divisive distraction benefiting the few at the expense of the many in public schools. By , a reelection year, the mayor had found the problems of the D. Williams routinely promised quality schools as the linchpin of a vision to lure middle-class residents back to the city. His failure to deliver on this promise had worried his base of business supporters and made him appear feckless to skeptics.

For its part, the school system has churned through a new superintendent every two years on average since Over that period, the performance of D. Department of Education statistics, although, unlike other school systems, the District figures include the equivalent of both state-level and local education spending. The list of familiar big-city woes continues. Violence remains a menace, with school-related shootings claiming three teenagers in a three-month span last year. A new D. If the D. Congress, however, is ill equipped and disinclined to undertake that local function.

In he gave a private pledge to business leaders organized by Terence C. Golden, a former Reagan administration Treasury official and chief executive of Host Marriott, to support vouchers as part of a broader initiative to help charter and regular public schools. One key figure was Joseph E.

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Robert Jr. Robert recalled the CEO dinner in the fall of at which Williams abandoned his anti-voucher stance. With the mayor coming out in support of vouchers, Robert pushed ahead with a full-scale campaign. Robert supported grassroots organizations such as D.

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Parents for School Choice, a group of about 50 activists and hundreds of supporters that had become the public face of the District of Columbia voucher movement. Also involved were J. Thomas M. At the same time, the mayor said he got the best deal he could for the city because he secured additional dollars for public schools. Reorganizing education is a first step.

The Washington talks did not take place in a vacuum. White House officials had been kept apprised of developments in the District through Republican intermediaries active in city affairs such as former GOP cabinet members William F. Bennett and William T. Within days of the Bush leak on vouchers, Secretary Paige opened direct talks with city officials, meeting with Mayor Williams and with D.

School Choice Isn’t Enough: Instructional reform is the key to better schools. | City Journal

Dead set against vouchers when he ran against Williams for mayor in , Chavous had come around to supporting charter schools, reflecting Democratic orthodoxy. At a February dinner with the chief executives at a downtown hotel, he announced his further conversion to vouchers.

They will only respond to external pressures and a more educated electorate. We must accept the federally proposed voucher or scholarship program. With the mayor, the school board president, and a key city council member on the team, voucher supporters had cracked the solid wall of local opposition that had stalled past campaigns.

Throughout the summer of , voucher opponents were mobilizing. As a September showdown neared, their coalition included the major teacher unions and public education associations, People for the American Way, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and several Jewish organizations, among others. Teacher union officials began calling in chits with swing members; local school board members flooded Capitol Hill switchboards; and party-whipping organizations went to battle stations.

The White House turned up its pressure.

I got to choose private schools, but will vouchers really help other kids make it?

For the first time in recent memory, a president sent emissaries to meet with appropriations committee members to press them to include funding for a single initiative. Hobbs, called the voucher program as high a priority for the administration as passage of No Child Left Behind in The floor debate was familiar. Critics also said that private schools receiving taxpayer aid would be less accountable to voters and would operate free of some antidiscrimination laws. We use cookies to help provide and enhance our service and tailor content.

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Skip to main content. Copy URL. See all articles by John F. Witte John F. Although no voucher program exists in the FWL region, a survey of California private schools found that space in these schools was so limited that unless schools planned to expand their capacity, less than one percent of public school students could be accommodated.


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As voucher proposals continue to surface, it will be important to track the emerging court decisions and interpretations thereof. Emerging research may also lend clarity to some of the more controversial elements contributing to the political debate over private school vouchers. Across the country people will undoubtedly be watching to see how voucher programs already in place evolve and what lessons can be learned from their experiences.

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The great voucher debate

Education Week , p. Puerto Rico also enacted a voucher program in which serves over 16, students. A Supreme Court case decision in determined that inclusion of private religious schools in the program was unconstitutional; the case is now being appealed. See: Center for Education Reform. Washington, D. The Arizona Republic. Private school aid bill stuck in committee. Reno Gazette- Journal. With voters lukewarm, California group shelves voucher initiative until election. Education Week. Politics, markets and America's schools. This analysis pointed out that "each student who leaves the public schools to redeem a scholarship reduces public school funding twice.

First, when he leaves, and a second time when his scholarship and 'savings' are counted in satisfaction of the reduced state obligation to fund public schools. Wisconsin blocking voucher data, researcher says. Milwaukee Parental Choice Program: Fourth year report. Madison: University of Wisconsin. What a voucher could buy.

A survey of California's private schools.