Magazine article Insight on the News

Why Not Vouchers for Tuition? Food Stamps Are Food Vouchers

Magazine article Insight on the News

Why Not Vouchers for Tuition? Food Stamps Are Food Vouchers

Article excerpt

Vouchers are daggers that plunge into the heart of what is the American way," Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told a May 15 United Federation of Teachers, or UFT According to the New York Post's Maria Alvarez, Schumer claimed that spending public dollars on private schools will "develop chaos and divide our country on religion and race."

Schumer is an old-line liberal who clearly speaks his mind without the benefit of modern-day weasel words. Now he is politically shouting "fire" in a packed Carnegie Hall.

While Schumer sees a conflagration, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani seeks to ignite a pilot light. Specifically, he wants to test vouchers for two to three years in just one of New York's 32 school districts. Of the city's 1.1 million public-school students, about 3,000 poor kids would receive vouchers averaging $6,500, redeemable at private or parochial campuses.

"Let's see if it works" Giuliani suggested in his Jan. 14 State of the City address. "If it does work" he added, "maybe we can have the courage to present another alternative to our children."

Gotham's political establishment has aimed high-pressure fire hoses on this modest proposal. New York City schools chancellor Rudy Crew threatened to resign. UFT president Randi Weingarten said, "Vouchers would be absolutely destructive to us as a community and a society" Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel complained that "the mayor is directing his sledgehammer politics at the schools now, and the city's kids are the losers"

Why are liberals so allergic to school vouchers? After all, they support many other kinds of vouchers. They are simply one way to give the needy both the finances and the freedom to shop for the goods and services they want.

Food stamps, for instance, are food vouchers. Though problematic, this program could be worse. When it was launched in 1964, Uncle Sam could have built government-run supermarkets to sell congressionally approved groceries at politically fixed prices. Instead, Washington wisely gave vouchers to the poor to buy whatever they found appetizing -- besides alcohol, tobacco and cosmetics.

As the Pacific Research Institute's Joanna Elachi explains, federal vouchers help low-income parents fund day care that appeals to them and their children. Section 8 rental vouchers allow the poor to escape squalid public-housing projects and instead inhabit comfortable, private apartments. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.