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[Susan notes: Too bad the National School Boards want to fully fund NCLB instead of dumping it.]

Published in USA Today

To the editor

Misguided policy ideas designed to divert attention from real issues are sadly a symptom of election-year politics (" Opportunity for all children," Opposing view, Education quality debate, Aug. 14).

So it is with the Bush administration's national school voucher proposal, an idea that even advocates have pronounced dead on arrival this year and with good reason. The plan to provide taxpayer-financed vouchers of $4,000 per student a year to fund private school tuition would not raise student achievement, improve public education or provide taxpayers with public accountability.

Objective research suggests that despite built-in screening advantages for private voucher schools, their students do not outperform public school students. Even the U.S. Department of Education recently released a study that showed when comparing similar students, public schools perform as well as or better than their private counterparts that can pick and choose which students to accept.

And contrary to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' assertion that vouchers "complement" the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, they actually would render the law obsolete because private schools receiving tax dollars at the expense of public schools would not face the rigid public accountability standards to which public schools must adhere.

Vouchers would gut a core tenet of NCLB and make a mockery of the very accountability the law stresses. A better approach is to focus on boosting the achievement of all students by fully funding NCLB, ensuring all schools have well-trained teachers and avoiding unnecessary distractions such as vouchers.

E. Jane Gallucci is a Member Pinellas County (Fla.) School Board and President, National School Boards Association

E. Jane Gallucci

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