Thursday, May 17, 2012
Evansville Courier & Press
I am proud to have been born and raised in Evansville, and that my family is a small part of the city's historical fabric. But I am even more grateful that my mother was able to choose a school that worked best for me.
When I was young it was Plaza Park Elementary where I was taught by Mrs. Martin in first grade. Later it was the StonyBrook Prep School in Long Island, and eventually it was the Evansville Christian School.
Without these quality public and private options and my mother's dogged pursuit of educational excellence, I never would have made it in life.
That is why I was so dismayed to read John Krull's article, "A bad case of school voucher fever" (April 28).
Krull dismisses the idea of school vouchers because of his personal distaste for market forces and subsequently hopes the voucher law will stand up in the courts only so it can fail. How elitist.
I dare Mr. Krull to tell my mom she shouldn't have had options. I dare him to tell the thousands of Evansville paren ts who can't afford to choose better schools they should not be free to use vouchers.
Or how about the 113 low- and middle-income families who are attending 16 private schools using vouchers, or the hundreds of families choosing the Signature charter school, or the thousands of families exercising housing choice to pick good schools. Should they be denied choice too? Can you imagine how those meetings would go?
Of all the education reforms tried in the past 50 years, school vouchers have undergone the most extensive scrutiny by far.
Despite what Mr. Krull thinks, the factual evidence is compelling. According to every single empirical study, school vouchers lead to modest test score gains for kids and an impressive increase in graduation rates.
Moreover, the best available evidence indicates in states and cities with school choice, public schools improve faster as a result of competition.
Mr. Krull may not like competition and choice, but it is clear that the current state of education can't improve without them. True, they are not a panacea for all the educational ills we face, but they are certainly a major tool that every parent should have in their arsenal.
Just ask my mom and the many parents utilizing these new opportunities.
Robert C. Enlow is president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.