Questions for Choice Opponents

Published May 1, 2002

“America already has created the greatest voucher program in history,” said U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige in a February 28 speech to the Black Alliance for Educational Options in Philadelphia. “It was stupendously successful. No one minds its support for private and religious schools. It is called the GI Bill.”

Paige pointed out that his Department’s budget includes both Pell Grant funding for college students and Title I funding for K-12 students. Since federal aid gives college students choices, he argued, there’s no reason why federal aid shouldn’t also give first-graders choices. He suggested asking defenders of the status quo the following questions:

  • “Are you opposed to the Pell Grant system?”
  • “Do you think the Department of Education should pick a college for every college student?”
  • “Shouldn’t everyone go to the college closest to home?”
  • “Isn’t it unfair to help a student go to a private university?”
  • “If the university has a chapel, and its students get federal Pell Grants, doesn’t that violate the separation of church and state?”
  • “Aren’t Pell Grants a way to abandon the state university system and drain money and bright students away from it?”

“Choice is all around us—even in federal aid for college students—and it is time to bring it to the children,” Paige declared.