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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Give Parents a Choice in Education, Says Bob Barr

The federal Department of Education is spending almost $70 billion this year on a function not even mentioned in the Constitution. “The Department should be closed down and the money left with the American people to use for education at the family, local, and state levels,” says Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee.

While spending so much money on programs that should not exist, in 2003 the Congress created a small voucher program started for students in Washington, D.C., which has some of the worst schools in the nation. Now the Democratic majority is planning on killing the initiative, putting nearly 2000 students back into the failed public school system. “The only federal education program Congress wants to get rid of is the one doing the most to help poor kids,” observes Barr.

But since education is not a federal responsibility, “a better way to promote educational opportunity is at the state level,” explains Barr. There are now 22 different choice programs in 14 states. Some of those initiatives provide vouchers; others create tax credits. “I commend Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for recently signing into law legislation creating a state income tax credit for individuals and companies that donate to groups which provide private scholarships for students,” said Barr.

In fact, “private scholarships have become an increasingly important choice mechanism across the nation,” Barr notes. Examples range from the District of Columbia's Washington Scholarship Fund to Portland, Oregon’s Children’s Scholarship Fund. “In this way average people who want to improve education can avoid the political obstacles to reforming the public schools,” he adds.

America’s public educational monopoly is not working. “The failure to adequately educate our children to compete in the international marketplace and to be good citizens in a free society is truly scandalous,” says Barr. “The answers will not come from Washington. Instead, they will come from families across America as they educate their own children, put their children into private schools, and improve the public system,” Barr adds. We expect choice and competition throughout the economy. “It’s time to apply those same principles to education,” he insists.

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