David's Hammer: The Case for An Activist Judiciary

By Clint Bolick | Go to book overview
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9. School Choice

Chue Yang is a 21-year-old junior at Georgetown University, majoring in history and English in preparation for a career as a college professor. Though her future is bright, she has had to come a long way. Chue emigrated to America with her family when she was in second grade. Neither Chue nor her parents knew any English. She enrolled in the Milwaukee Public Schools, which, at the time, were highly dysfunctional. Chue was forced to overcome not only her language barrier but substandard schooling.

By the time Chue reached middle school, she was able to obtain a half-tuition scholarship to attend a private school, where her cir- cumstances improved. Her family found even half tuition difficult to afford, especially with three other children, but somehow they managed. As Chue recounts, “They saw that education was the only way out of poverty and to gain a better life.”

When she was ready to start high school, Chue was offered an opportunity to advance her education and ease the burden on her parents at the same time. She received a publicly financed voucher through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which is available to pay the full tuition of students in low-income families who wish to attend private schools. That program allowed Chue to attend Messmer High School, an independent Catholic school that serves an overwhelmingly minority and low-income (and largely non-Cath- olic) student population. The school's high standards and expecta- tions and its philosophy of “no excuses” produce high graduation rates and impressive academic credentials. In Chue's case, the school equipped her for admission to one of the nation's top universities.

Today in Milwaukee, students may choose among a wide array of К–12 educational options, including public charter schools, private schools, and traditional public schools. The same is true for many students in Arizona, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and the nation's capital, which allow disadvantaged children to attend private schools using either vouchers or scholarships funded through tax

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