To those who object that vouchers would violate church-state separation if parents opted for religious schools for their children, Chief Justice William Rehnquist dealt with that concern in the Supreme Court's ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the Cleveland voucher program. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Rehnquist said: "We believe the program challenged here is a program of true private choice. The Ohio program is neutral in all respects toward religion. It is part of a general and multifaceted undertaking by the State of Ohio to provide educational opportunities to the children of a failed school district."
Government spending on K-12 schools in the United States ($6,857 per pupil) is higher than in any other developed country. Yet, 9- and 13-year-old American students rank last in mathematics and science among students from the seven large countries that administered the most recent International Assessment of Education Progress. (See the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation Web page: www.friedmanfoundation.org.)
It is more than irony that Republicans are the staunchest backers of school choice when the beneficiaries are primarily minority children whose parents mostly vote for Democrats, and Democrats oppose it in the face of overwhelming approval among one of their biggest constituencies.
A market economy offers larger slices of the economic pie to all who are willing to work for it. A market education system will offer a better education for children, which is their ticket to success. Some politicians say more money is the answer to the problems in the public schools. If it were, the United States would have the best educated students on earth, because we are spending record amounts.
School choice is the answer. If the politicians and unions stand in their way, parents, who care more about their children than a politician ever will, are going to demand, and get, the schools they want and their children need. That's the message from Mayor Williams' turnaround.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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