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School vouchers have not proved their value

Vouchers boost achievement | May 6, commentary by Jeb Bush

Vouchers have not shown their value
Not content merely to watch our state struggle to raise his ugly quad-
ruplets — a budget crisis, a property tax crisis, a property insurance crisis, and an educational system going sideways — Jeb Bush, through the handiwork of his elves at the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, is back with an even better idea for "helping" our schools: Let's amend the Constitution to allow public funding of private school tuitions.

The fact that school vouchers are a pet cause of right-wing ideologues does not invalidate the program's potential usefulness, but the surplus of gasbaggery to actual evidence in Bush's argument reveals a truth contrary to the author's forced conclusion: Vouchers do not boost achievement. In fact, studies conducted on the extensive voucher experiments of Milwaukee and Cleveland have shown that voucher programs have neither produced better achieving students nor improved the struggling schools they left behind.

As one voucher proponent-turned- skeptic put it, "Education reformers ought to resist unreflective support for elegant-sounding theories, derived from the study of economic activity, that don't produce verifiable results in the classroom."

It is this reality, and not the wishful thinking of doctrinaire politicians, that must govern our education policies and guide voters in November.

L.E. Brinkley, St. Petersburg
Vouchers boost achievement
May 6, commentary by Jeb Bush

A return to
devious tactics

Our former governor accuses the Times of "theatrics" and "tired rhetoric"? That's rich. I'm sure there will be plenty more theatrics between now and November as the voucher debate is renewed, despite so-called "opportunity scholarships" having been declared unconstitutional by the courts. Jeb Bush, famous for his "devious plans," will not let go of the linchpin of his educational reform legacy without a fight.

I would like to know what evidence supports the connection between vouchers and "unprecedented student learning gains," when private and religious institutions are not held to the same standards? And maybe he and his appointees on the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission can explain what vouchers have to do with taxation and budget reform in the first place! Maybe then the voters can decide who is really using "worn-out diversionary tactics."

D. Rhea, Tampa

Vouchers boost achievement
May 6, commentary by Jeb Bush

Their time has passed

The contrast is striking: Jeb Bush proclaims "Vouchers boost achievement," while Greg Anrig, vice president of the Century Foundation, writes in the current issue of Washington Monthly that school vouchers are "An Idea Whose Time Has Gone: Conservatives Abandon Their Support for School Vouchers."

And while Jeb blathers on without reference to anything other than his own unfounded assertions, Anrig documents his essay with authoritative sources demonstrating that "private and charter schools on average perform little or no better than traditional public schools, and sometimes worse," that "(some) voucher schools were led by individuals who had negligible experience," and that while school choice is "popular in the national headquarters of the Republican Party (it) is unpopular among Republican rank-and-file voters."

It seems that Jeb is the one whose notions are well past their "sell-by date."

Tom Ziebold, St. Petersburg

School cuts: from bad to worse
May 5, editorial

Preserve programs

The Times editorial suggests that the Pinellas County School Board look to the money from a county property tax referendum as a possible way "to plug the $43-million hole the state Legislature has blown in the district's budget."

In January, my husband and I voted for, supported and spoke to as many people as we could in the arts community about supporting the reauthorization of the referendum measure, primarily because the money was targeted to specific uses — increased teacher salaries and sorely needed dollars for art, music, reading and technology programs.

It is completely unacceptable that these program funds be redirected to other uses, especially given the overwhelming margin of approval the referendum reauthorization received. We support a "whole child" education which provides the full and balanced curriculum for our students. That's what these funds were provided for.

I urge the School Board to stand firm, as representatives of the people, in their support of the funds being used only for the purpose for which they were intended. This is what the voters endorsed.

Maria P. Cantonis, founding member, Arts for a Complete Education/Pinellas Steering Committee, Belleair

School cuts: from bad to worse
May 5, editorial

Trim the fat

According to your editorial, the Pinellas school district has 16,000 employees. Am I the only one who finds this number obscenely high? Also, a 2 percent pay cut is minimal. How much in raises have these 16,000 employees received in the last five years?

It's past time to remove the fat from our bloated government payrolls. Taxpayers are fed up.

Mike Lyons, Apollo Beach

Victory remembered

Sixty-three years ago today was V-E Day (Victory in Europe). Thousands of veterans who proudly served in the European Theater of Operations will remember that glorious day forever. Half of World War II finally came to an end.

V-E Day brought celebrations and jubilation all over Europe. In England, where I was based with the 8th Air Force, we witnessed the English people literally dancing in the streets, having endured the wrath of incessant bombings by German V-2 rockets and Luftwaffe bombers. Peace at last!

America paid a very high price for that victory. Those of us who survived that terrible war will never forget it. For the thousands of brave American servicemen and women who lost their lives, their loving families have never been the same since.

The National World War II Memorial Registry of Remembrances was initiated for veterans who saw service during the war but, in addition, it includes the National Archives list of those killed in service, the names of those buried in American Battle Monuments Commission overseas World War II cemeteries, as well as the names of those listed on ABMC Tablets of the Missing.

The registry is online and accessible for the public through the Memorial Web site at, or one may call (800) 639-4992.

Jack Keller Sr., 8th Air Force
B-17 bomber combat veteran; lifetime charter member, World War II Memorial Society, Belleair Bluffs

School vouchers have not proved their value 05/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 9:31am]
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