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THOMPSON: Avoiding Worst Case Scenarios

WorstcasescenarioAs with so many neighborhoods, ours has an elementary school with a poverty rate of 85% and a non-White population of 80%. On the other side of the park is the old "Oilman’s Row," where children naturally go to the Montessori school, or some other private schools. As an unintended effect of NCLB, because the neighborhood school is failing, the system must provide a bus for rich families to an elite public school ten miles away.

We can live with that sort of silliness, but what if a poorly crafted Voucher Law took effect? Oklahoma City has 6,909 private school students. If 1/2 of the families who would never send their children to a public school were to cash their Vouchers, our district of 36,400 regular students and 4,400 charter students would sink.

I would support a grandfather provision for current Washington D.C. Voucher students, but we must avoid worst-case scenarios. Like the D.C. Blue/Green contract, or value-added models without guarantees that they will not be misused in evaluations, some mistakes could destroy the already leaking ship that is urban education. Besides, we still have charters and magnet schools.

As I will be explaining, charters not a mortal threat but neither are they a panacea. Running a little school system is no picnic especially after the more easily educated students have been creamed off. I predict that the national market will soon be as over-saturated as it is in my city. - John Thompson


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"bus for rich families"

Please elaborate. Can low income students use the bus to go to the elite public school? This is relevant to me because I am very suspicious that very low income parents won't use vouchers even if they were available, maybe because the vouchers don't cover all costs, admissions policies, or some other reason. This means that that implementing vouchers could actually increase the gap between the schools of poverty students and non-poverty students. I read a while ago that some DC vouchers went to students who were already in private school, which also puzzles me.

How about a sliding voucher system? Say 100% private tuition paid for those making under $30K, 90% for those under $40K, etc...

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