Saturday, August 27, 2005

I think I have figured out a solution for Texas' school problems - Local News - 08/27/2005 - I think I have figured out a solution for Texas' school problems

With the same Solomonesque deftness that's probably needed to bring peace to the Middle East, I think I have figured out a solution for Texas' school problems.

I don't want to hold this out as the perfect solution, but it probably is worth considering as much as some of the other things that the Texas Legislature considered and rejected.

The unique thing about this idea is that it may accomplish bridging the razor-edged divide between those who think Texas' public schools need more money, and those who think the education answer is vouchers.

Opponents say vouchers will undermine public schools and lead to cream-skimming of the best students. Plus, top-notch private schools have nowhere near the capacity to educate even a small fraction of Texas' 4.4 million students.

That's where my solution comes in. Rather than allow skimming off the best students, these vouchers would go to every student. And, like GI Bill vouchers, the students could choosed to use them at a private school, or at a public school, including the one they already attend.

The vouchers would afford freedom of choice. The voucher money that follows the students would provide a financial boost for schools wherever it goes.

That's because under my plan, the money spent per student would be the same as the tuition for day students at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts, one of the nation's best-ranked and most prestigious prep schools.

Why Andover? Because that's where the previous President Bush and wife Barbara sent their eldest son, George W., for high school.

Now comes disclosure of what may be a sticking point for this plan. The current tuition rate at Andover for day students -- those who do not board, but come for classes each day -- is $24,220 a year.


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