Good News and Bad News

Published June 1, 1999

The good news: This fall, 40,000 children from low-income families will use private vouchers from the Children’s Scholarship Fund, plus an average family payment of $1,000, to escape public schools across the nation and enroll in secular or religious private schools.

The bad news: The $160 million donated to the Children’s Scholarship Fund is enough to satisfy only 3 percent of the parents who want to free their children from public schools. Almost 97 percent of parents who desire choice remain unsatisfied.

At least 1,197,360 poor children in grades K-8 nationwide have parents who want out of the public school system–parents willing to pay almost $5 billion towards private school tuition. Those 1.2 million children will remain “trapped in dangerous, dead-end schools” because their parents cannot afford the full cost of tuition at a private school.

“Like most people involved in the scholarship fund,” writes Stedman Graham in a letter to the editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, “I am not against public education. What I am against is a system that allows for no alternatives and no competition. We have 1.25 million parents telling us that they demand choices. We should be heeding their call.”