Vouchers give students and parents the power of choice
The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP) was the 1st federally funded voucher program in America. It gave low-income parents $7,500 a year to choose the best education for their children. It transformed parents and students into customers with
the power to exercise choice. And, like most customers, these parents shopped around. They exercised their choice. And it worked. Kids who failed in public schools succeeded in private and charter schools that were chosen by their parents--at less than
1/3 of the cost.
One would think that if something was generating success in its own backyard, the US government would support it.
Instead of supporting the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, the [Obama Administration] eliminated funding
for new students who wanted to enter the program.
Fortunately, in March 2011, a Republican-sponsored bill to restore and enhance the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program passed--over the objections of the White House and the Democratic Party.
Vouchers work: Schools either get better, or they close
The debate over whether vouchers work is effectively over. They do. They may not work for teachers' unions or the entrenched educational bureaucracies of municipal school systems, but they're tremendously effective for students.
But we think it's important to reflect for a moment on why vouchers work. By giving parents more educational purchasing power, we enable them to serve as consumers and exercise their demand for better schools.
The demand-side results are immediate--when parents get to choose between sending their kids to failing local schools or succeeding local schools, they obviously choose the ones that succeed.
One of two things happens to the unsuccessful schools--either they get better, or they close--and each is a perfectly acceptable option.
Young adults in college are not exempt from Tea Party suspicion. Montana GOP Congressman Denny Rehberg, a Tea Party favorite, was no doubt speaking to the choir when he recently denounced aid to college students as "the welfare of the 21st century."
A similar point was made in an April 2010 blog posting on the Greater Boston Tea Party website, claiming that college kids are taking advantage of the Food Stamp program. "Call me crazy," the blogger opined, "but when I needed money for college,
I got a job." The limited economic opportunities available to young people were not something Tea Party members mentioned to us. Nor did they express any concern about declining college attendance and completion for lower-income and lower-middle-income
young people--a decline that has caused the US to fall behind in the global higher education sweepstakes. Instead, Tea Partiers condemned the behavior of the young in moral terms.
Dismiss objectionable intellectuals as over-educated elites
Although Tea Partiers dismiss intellectuals with harsh rhetoric, they are themselves usually well educated. Most of those we spoke to had a college education, and many had advanced degrees. One Tea Partier objected to a brief written survey we had
provided, saying it did not allow her to list her full academic credentials. As with those deemed undeserving, the category of the "intellectual elite" is more politically symbolic than based on clear-cut empirical facts.
In Tea Partyland, ideology and politics separate objectionable educated elites from other highly educated people.
Because of their supposed disdain for average Americans, liberal elites are imagined to be plotting new forms of regulation and control.
They think "they know what's best for us," one Virginia Tea Partier explained. Regulations supported by liberals are perceived as a foreign moral code, an imposition of un-American ideals.