Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Voucher Debate Going Forward

The issue of allowing parents to receive a percentage of state funding to use at any school - public or private - of their choice continues tonight as the Douglas County School Board opens discussion and consideration of the issue. As I noted before, the location of this recent voucher issue is generating some controversy, as vouchers have always been touted as a way for poor kids in struggling schools to escape those conditions - by contrast D.C. schools are some of the wealthiest and most successful in the state.

Interestingly, an earlier law in Colorado was struck down by the state supreme court precisely because it violated constitutional rights of local control. Because this would be decided at the local level, advocates argue it would pass constitutional challenge. The initial school board meetings were largely attended and hotly debated, as some people argued for the right to use their tax dollars as they see fit, while others protested taking away money from public schools to support more exclusive private ones. People could reasonably argue that perhaps the individual can only request a voucher for the amount he paid in taxes, as opposed to being able to use state and federal funds as well as dollars paid by other community members.

Because Colorado has open enrollment, there has been less apparent need to push the issue of school choice. Thus, this does seem to be simply an ideological battle. And, of course, some have amusingly speculated that the debate would immediately be squashed if someone were to open a muslim school teaching sharia law in the district. That's an interesting qualifier.

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