After condemning the NYC public schools last April as a system that "should be blown up," Mayor Giuliani included $12 million in his budget for school vouchers. His school choice proposal sparked a nasty political battle with Chancellor Crew. The debate over vouchers continues. Advocates say that the current system is incapable of teaching kids, and that innovation is necessary. They cite other cities, like Milwaukee, where students in voucher schools have improved markedly, especially inner city kids. Naysayers foresee the death of public education. They fear that vouchers will lure students and funds out of the public school system. Taxpayer monies, they assert, should not be used to send students to private schools - especially not parochial ones. This objection was raised in Milwaukee, where an experimental voucher program sends 8,000 students to private schools; the US Supreme Court has allowed the program to continue. In New York, vouchers will be a hot early issue for the next Chancellor.
VOUCHERS CAN WORK:
"The School That Vouchers Built" - Sol Stern's vehemently pro-vouchers piece tells the success stories of four private schools in Milwaukee and Cleveland that accept voucher students. His report card: "straight A." Vouchers are the answers.
State of the City Address - The speech in which Mayor Giuliani first proposed the experimental use of vouchers in NYC schools, the impetus of an extended political battle between Mayor and Chancellor.
"I oftentimes want to go the map and cut out Milwaukee. You're causing me pure hell in New York." - Chancellor Crew at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
VOUCHERS WON'T FIX THE PROBLEM:
Emergency Campaign Against Vouchers - The United Federation of Teachers and its 140,000 members are solidly opposed to vouchers. Their largest objection is that students with vouchers may not be accepted to the school of their choice, or to any school at all. They maintain that reduction in class size will produce greater improvements in student achievement.
"My School Reforms Make a Difference" - Then-Chancellor Rudy Crew's op-ed in the Daily News about how reform is turning around the NYC public school system, and why vouchers are not a viable solution.
MORE BACKGROUND INFO:
An Evaluation of the New York City School Choice Scholarships Program: The First Year - Details the findings of an experiment conducted about the implementation of school choice through the use of vouchers. Findings are mixed: Children in voucher schools did only slightly better on standardized tests than their public school counterparts. Their parents reported being more content with their child's education. Seventy-five percent of families offered scholarships used them; they were of higher income-levels than those who did not. This study provides some interesting insights into the realities of vouchers.
Education Week - A thorough treatment of a variety of issues, including vouchers. A good primer on the issues and politics of vouchers, with extensive links to related articles and sites.
School Choice 1999: What's Happening in the States - Web version of the Heritage Foundation annual publication. A comprehensive site with coverage of the status and history of vouchers in NYS.
Children's Scholarship Fund - Since June1998, the Children's Scholarship Fund has over 40,000 scholarships providing up to 75% of a child's private or parochial school tuition.