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The Washington Times
Saturday, February 23, 2002
Why Cleveland needs school choice
The fate of the Cleveland school district's voucher program is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, who must decide whether the inclusion of religious schools violates the First Amendment. With religious schools providing the only alternative for most Cleveland students, the importance of the court's decision for their well-being cannot be underestimated.
According to a study released in November 2001, Cleveland has the
lowest graduation rate of any school district nationwide; not only do
1 in 14 graduate on time but a mere 28 percent graduate at all.
Cleveland schools failed to meet proficiency standards in all
categories, sometimes missing the low 60 percent standard by 30
percentage points, while only 14.5 percent were proficient in all
At Health Careers Center in Cleveland, a specialized school
dedicated to health care careers, only 18 percent of students are
proficient in science. How can a school dedicated to health education have such low marks in science and be allowed to continue to fail
without external reproach?
In the 1998-1999 school year, John Marshall High School had an
enrollment of 1,853 and 1,909 student suspensions. Infractions ranged
from threatening behavior to possession of drugs and weapons and
No wonder parents in Cleveland are outraged at the failure of
their schools. With no choice available to parents, their children
would be imprisoned in schools where the likelihood of graduation is
low and criminal activity is extremely high.
All other arguments aside, school choice provides children with
hope for their future and a prospect for success that could not be achieved otherwise.
JUSTIN J. OLSON
Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation
A version of this article was published in The Washington Times Saturday, February 23, 2002