"It could very well balkanize this country in a way that we've been working so hard against," cautions Capwell.
The gist of these warnings, near as I can figure, is that since private schools maintain their own private missions, they hold the potential to divide a diverse populace into rival clans, thus fraying America's common national identity. Public schools on the other hand, have no particular mission and therefore are well suited to uniting a diverse student body.
Needless to say, the maintenance of our pluralistic society seem well worth accomplishing.
Just one thing: Separate studies by Dr. Jay Green, senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute, as well as the evaluators of the private voucher programs in Dayton, New York and San Antonio all found that school vouchers actually enhance the level of racial and economic diversity in education. The reason is straightforward: Private schools are not hemmed in by geographic boundaries. Whereas public schools mirror the racial and economic composition of a single community, private schools draw their students from multiple districts and therefore transcend economically and racially segregated housing patterns.
Additionally, a two-year evaluation of the DC voucher program found that students educated in private schools actually display higher levels of political tolerance. According to the report, "higher proportions of private school students than public school students would allow members of disliked groups to give a speech (34% vs. 18%) or run for president (37% vs. 20%) or permit a member of a group they dislike to live in their neighborhood (47% v. 26%)."
Far from fraying this country's multicultural tapestry, it seems that vouchers hold the potential to break apart those social conditions that have tended to brutally sort our children by race and income.
There is also ample evidence at this point that: 1) poor, inner city children-mostly of color-benefit from the use of vouchers; 2) vouchers force underachieving schools to get their act together.
It does not matter. The teachers unions aren't about to give up any of their power. So they continue to hold public education hostage?kind of like?you know?a terrorist organization.
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