School Vouchers: Past Lessons and Future Prospects - The Successes of Voucher Programs Thus Far
October 1, 2002Danny LaBry, Bob Smith, Robert Enlow
MR. ENLOW: We are talking about the real world, and it is important to note that some of the previous panelists who were critical of school choice and school vouchers are no longer here to actually defend the comments that they made. For example, one panelist said, this is about the real world; the Justice’s opinion is abstract and other-worldly and that any reasonable person would consider this decision (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris) unconstitutional. Well, in my world, which I consider a slightly more real world, a par is a par: a four is a four; a three is a three; a five is a five; and a 5-4 is a 5-4. That is the end of the story. We need to make sure we’re clear about that. We can whine about different dissents; we can complain about different things. And there are legal, reasonable debates to be had. But the fact is that it was a five-person majority who ruled very strongly, as far as we can tell, in favor of giving parents the choice of schools. And the critical difference between one of the panelists on the legal side and my personal opinion was the misunderstanding of direct aid versus indirect aid. Vouchers in Cleveland are more different than food stamps in many ways — direct aid to a parent who can choose to use them wherever they want, which is in fact, the genesis of Dr. Friedman’s argument. I was originally supposed to only be the moderator of this panel. We were going to be joined by Pat Rooney, who unfortunately is ill and cannot join us. I have also been asked to do a little speaking, and in the true nature of Milton Friedman and free markets I am being a little flexible, we are responding to the marketplace. What I am going to do very quickly is introduce our two esteemed panelists and let you know what we are each going to talk about.