The public school establishment says, "Give us more money and we'll educate the children." But, for three times the money, they clearly are not as effective in the inner-cities of Philadelphia and Chester as the more than 24 Baptist schools, many parochial schools, and a number that are Lutheran, Evangelical, Jewish, nonsectarian, Quaker, etc.
Therefore, I call upon Constance Clayton, head of our Philadelphia Public School system, and John Yarnovic, head of Pennsylvania's largest teacher's union - both of whom, I believe, deeply care for the children - to become true educational statesmen and come out publicly in favor of choice among all schools. With the immense job that needs to be done, this country must utilize the best of all our schools, both public and nonpublic, to educate our children. In fact, the competition brought on by school choice will help Dr. Clayton budge any laggards in her administration who might still be unresponsive to her stated vision. While some pupils may transfer out of the Philadelphia public school system to nonpublic schools, the education of the kids is the purpose of schools, not maximum enrollment. The end result will be to greatly advance her goal of making her schools truly effective.
School choice can be accomplished through a "G.I. Bill for Kids" wherein our Commonwealth would allow a parent to take part of the state funds allocated to educate their children in a public school and apply it toward the tuition of any nonpublic school. Like the original G.I. Bill, it will pay for itself many times over in the taxes collected on the increased earnings of the recipients. And, like the original G.I. Bill, it will bypass any problem of separation of church and state. Most importantly, the educational effectiveness of all our schools will increase and all our children will have the opportunity of reaching their full potential.
How do we know that school choice will work? If it did not, poor parents in Philadelphia and Chester would not be making such great financial sacrifices to educate their children in neighboring nonpublic schools in their one-best hope of escaping poverty. We know school choice must be working elsewhere
because parents who teach in public schools are twice as likely to send their children to nonpublic school as their neighbors.
Dr. Claytom and Mr. Yarnovich, you can lead the nation. What is good for our children is good for all of us - no matter whose schools they attend. Let us not waste our children's lives any longer delaying this essential first step to combatting poverty, crime, drugs, immorality, unemployment and foreign competition.
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