Indiana is one of many success stories. The state has just begun its second year of a voucher program. Parents can decide where to send their kids, whether to public, private secular, religious or charter schools. As World Magazine recently reported, "About 300 private, largely Christian schools in the state are accepting voucher students -- and gaining a financial boost as they arrive." So much else is working in Indiana under Governor Mitch Daniels and a Republican legislature (with occasional help from some Democrats), it is unlikely the school voucher program will fail.
According to World Magazine, 10 states and the District of Columbia now offer a variety of school voucher options. In his 2010 fiscal year budget, President Obama attempted to end the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which grants vouchers to low-income students so they can attend private schools, but after an outcry from parents and stinging editorials in Washington's newspapers, he let the program proceed, at least until children already in the program had a chance to graduate.
"The president doesn't believe that vouchers are a long-term answer to our educational problems and the challenges that face our public school system...," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs offered in 2009. Senator Joe Lieberman and Speaker John Boehner disagreed, fought for school choice and succeeded in reaching an agreement with the president to fully implement the D.C. voucher program. "For eight years, this scholarship program has empowered low-income parents to choose the best learning environment for their children," Boehner said in June. "Thousands of families have taken advantage of this scholarship program to give their children an opportunity to succeed in life, and there's strong evidence that it's both effective and cost-effective."
This is a political advantage for Republicans as many African-American and Hispanic families are supportive of school choice. Most of these are Democratic voters, but nothing appeals to a parent more than safeguarding their children's future. Mitt Romney and Republicans running for Congress should take note of the Chicago teachers strike and claim school choice as their own.
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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