May 6, 2007

John Stossel on School Choice as a (Sometimes Literal) Safety Valve

Filed under: Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:10 pm

Citing a couple of chilling examples, Stossel notes that sometimes school choice is sometimes a matter of basic personal safety. I would use bold, but I’d have to bold it all:

In San Antonio, Texas, Jim and Cecilia Leininger have spent $10 million of their own money to give private-school scholarships to 8,000 students who were struggling in government schools.

At a meeting of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Jim said, “We hadn’t had this program going for one month, and the principal of a school in San Antonio called us and said, ‘I’ve got two black kids in my school that are identical twins. They’ve just entered the sixth grade. They’re 11 years old. They’re good kids. They’re good students. They don’t want to be in a gang. The gang is after them. And if you don’t give them a scholarship on an emergency basis, they’re going to get killed.’”

The horror stories went on and on. “We had one little girl who was told the very first day she got to middle school that at 11 years old, she was too pretty to be a virgin,” Leininger said. “These guys tried to rape her right in the classroom at the end of the day. Purely by God’s grace, the teacher came back into the room and started screaming just before this little girl was violated.

“A little blond first-grade girl was going to a school on the far west side of San Antonio. Nine older boys sharpened pencils and ran in circles around her, stabbing her with these pencils. She was stabbed 39 times.

“One mom we talked to, her child was hiding in the closet, kicking and screaming, afraid to go to school. He’d just entered the sixth grade, just met the gang. She was crying when she called us and said, ‘I can’t send him back there where the gangs are after him, but what can I do?’”

Leininger gave her and the other desperate children “emergency scholarships.”

Unfortunately, thousands more who would like to escape the government school monopoly cannot. Leininger hopes that some day all Texas kids will have the opportunities his scholarship recipients get.

For advocating vouchers that would allow that to happen, reporters called him “evil.” The San Antonio Express News even characterized the school-choice debate as voucher advocates vs. “pro-education” candidates.

Voucher proponents are not pro-education? Give me a break.

Concerning urban public schools: their dismal results, the violence that occurs at them, and their other scandalous shortcomings are perhaps the most taboo topics in the Formerly Mainstream Media.

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