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Press Release

    Why Cleveland needs school choice

    02/23/2002

    The Washington Times
    Copyright 2002
    Saturday, February 23, 2002

    LETTERS
    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

    subjects.

    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

    other misdeeds.

    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
    Research associate
    Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation
    Washington

    A version of this article was published in The Washington Times Saturday, February 23, 2002