Monday, April 14, 2008

Hysteria unwarranted

In an editorial today ('Drama class: School-choice debate over the top'), the state's largest newspaper takes the education establishment to task for its hysteria over the New Hope Scholarship Act, a modest proposal to help inner-city children.
To listen to the education establishment, a proposal to help some inner-city kids get out of their underperforming schools would be a travesty. An out-and-out catastrophe, even. And we don't even have to pay admission to witness this drama.

The issue is a bill that would provide a tax credit for those who give money to scholarship-granting groups to help students in some of Oklahoma City and Tulsa's worst-performing schools attend private schools. Donors could get a credit of up to half of their donation, with a $2.5 million annual cap on the credits granted.

The Oklahoma Education Association has urged its members to fight the so-called voucher plan because the "purpose is to divert much-needed public school funding to private schools." Please.

The law would apply only to low-income students in schools that have been on the state and federal school improvement list for three or more years. It takes two years of poor academic performance for a school to get on the list. So the bill is only talking about schools with a five-year track record of not getting the job done. We can't help but wonder if OEA members would put their kids in such schools if they had better options. It's ultimately about choice, and low-income families don't have much.

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