Bachmann’s voucher idea benefits foster kids

Published June 22, 2011

Mysteries provide good reading, but they’re best in left out of columns about serious issues like foster care. It is totally mystifying how Family Forum columnist Andrea Poe could conclude that the proposal of Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, to offer private-school vouchers to foster children would bring “instability” to these children’s lives. (“GOP hopeful Michele Bachmann plays politics,” Web, Communities, Friday.)

Research has established that foster children already have much instability in their lives, particularly as a result of multiple home placements that lead to them being shuttled from one public school to another, with typically none of those schools meeting their special needs. Enabling them to use a voucher to choose an independent school right for them could provide an anchor in their lives – entirely the opposite of the specter Ms. Poe conjures.

The Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 already supports state programs that provide job-training vouchers for older foster youths. However, as Mrs. Bachmann has rightly noted, that assistance comes too late for many of these children. It was an egregiously cheap shot for Ms. Poe to assert that Mrs. Bachmann, who herself has been a foster mom to 23 children, has been engaging in “right-wing social engineering” to push this empowerment of some of the nation’s neediest children.

School choice for special-needs children is a humanitarian cause that has been gathering bipartisan momentum across the country.

Robert Holland
Senior Fellow for Education Policy
The Heartland Institute

(This letter to the editor was published in the June 22, 2011 edition of The Washington Times.)