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To the Editor: Alex Wong deserves credit for debunking many of the myths used to oppose school choice ("Escaping the blackboard jungle," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 10/2/00). It is unfortunate that Republicans claim this issue as their own. There are Democrats who buck the party's dogmatic opposition to school choice. Many of us are greatly troubled by the hypocrisy of prominent Democrats who have benefited from school choice and who make sure their own children attend private schools that the poor children they claim to care about cannot even hope to attend. At a Democratic debate at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in the spring, Vice President Gore could not directly respond to the question of a young African-American woman. She asked why he could not send his own children to public schools in Washington, and if private school was a better choice for his children, why couldn't the means be found to support such a choice for poor parents. While Alex might be overly generous in the amount of money he suggests that the public school system spends per student -- in Philadelphia, it is only about $7,000 -- he correctly asserts that school districts would have more money to spend per student after distributing vouchers. Of course, the vested interests that benefit from the American public education monopoly, led by the NEA and its puppets in the leadership of the Democratic Party, will continue to resist school choice. Supporters, however, are witnessing increased support. Recent polls of African Americans reveal strong support for choice. This groundswell of support, as well as young voices like Alex Wong's, give hope to those of us who want to liberate poor children from the inferior schools in which they are now trapped.

Peter Watko Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

To the Editor: Regarding Alex Wong's column on school vouchers, I am held in constant amazement at the self-righteousness of conservatives on the vouchers issue. Free-marketeers like Mr. Wong would have you believe that vouchers are the answer to all that ails public education, and that the only people who don't want vouchers are the greedy teachers union. Few, however, have gone as far as he has in publically asserting that "a cracked and broken school system [is] something not worth fighting for." Yet this is the belief which lies behind the "school vouchers" ideological smoke screen. School vouchers amount to nothing less than the of end public education in America. There are plenty of people who are comfortable with this idea, people who also believe that government is necessarily bad and should do little as possible. These are the people who control both houses of Congress. They have voted against every school reform bill which has come before them, sought to slash federal spending on education and for the past six years ensured that public schools, especially city schools, do not receive the help they need. Yet they are more than willing to allocate tax dollars for new government handouts called vouchers. "School choice" offers no choice at all for most school children. A $3,000-$5,000 voucher will only buy a private school education for those parents who happen to have another $7,000-$15,000 to spend. Most of the inner-city children Mr. Wong seems to care so deeply for will be left behind. And the public schools will serve students and parents who are on the whole poorer and who have less political clout than those currently served. The problems facing schools today will surely get worse for the poor. For them the only choice is to make sure that a decent, free education is available for all Americans.

Alex Welsh Stacks Attendant Biomedical Library

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