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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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January 26, 2004

More on: School vouchers

My take on vouchers: They could well make the public schools better but smaller, in the way competition from Toyota, Nissan and Honda made the U.S. auto makers better but smaller. Competition forces people to change. In a competitive market, you are not under pressure to change the whole system. You have to change your piece of it.

Parents are the customers; let them choose the schools they want. Let educators open new schools. Let schools in which too few enroll close. Let the good succeed and the bad fail.

In the current system, the bad schools donít fail, at least not for an excruciatingly long time. They just keep going, because they are guaranteed customers. Being "accountable" to a publicly elected board is mostly talk. To satisfy a parent-customer is a much stronger form of accountability. It would change our kids' education for the better.

In theory, I like vouchers. I think the biggest problem would be the strings attached to the money. If you had too many strings, instead of making the public schools like the private schools, you would make the private schools like the public schools. So be careful.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at January 26, 2004 05:39 PM



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