Vouchers vs. public schools

Brett A. Mitchell is a Lassen High School District Construction Project Manager
If you have not taken a position on vouchers for education, I urge you to become informed and involved in this very critical issue, an issue that will affect us all. If you have made an uninformed decision, it is very important to become educated on this complex topic. If you hear an opinion, ask for evidence supporting the opinion.

Citizens who support school vouchers will tell you that the free-enterprise system will successfully prevail in what is currently perceived as a dismal educational system. The argument is that an education marketplace will produce excellence in a competitive school market, much the same as competitive car buying results in more choices and better products.

Citizens who oppose vouchers will tell you that a voucher system, once in place, will likely fall victim to its own best-laid plans. Why? Because public schools, unlike private schools, can never turn away a student. All students must be accepted. This distinction sets the stage for a voucher-funded school accepting only the academic elite, making this school more and more desirable, with more and more students wanting to attend. Meanwhile the proponents, who thought a private or different school would help the fledgling student, may find this same student turned away, unable to enter the school of his or her choice.

If vouchers are eventually approved, it will be equally important, as the competitive process begins, that you take a very careful look at your school choices. In California, SAT and STAR scores can be viewed on the Internet for any school, including private schools. Become informed about schools. There is a good chance your school may be doing a better job with your child than you might know. There are many Internet sites that offer valuable information on the subject.

I also suggest that you visit www.pdkintl.org, search the publications archives and type in the last name “Bracey.” You will find some revealing, even shocking evidence that America’s schools are doing much better than you are being led to believe. Most American public schools, despite the challenges of educating “all” citizens, are doing quite well. And it is not just an opinion; it is a soundly supported judgment with statistical facts and figures.

Public education has always been an easy target for the media. Have you recently heard any good news about our public schools? Please, as a democratic citizen, be educated in your decision making. Do not uncritically accept generalizations without evidence or blindly accept blanket statements about the quality or lack of quality of schools without first checking the facts.