July 17th, 2008
12:02 PM ET
14 years ago

Commentary: McCain right, Obama wrong on school vouchers

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/07/16/martin.vouchers/art.martin.cnn.jpg caption=" Roland Martin says school vouchers should be an option for families with kids in dead-end schools."]ACCRA, Ghana (CNN) - "All I want is for my children to get the best education they can."

That statement, along with so many others, has been a consistent one that I've heard on my radio show and in discussions with parents for years, especially those whose children are stuck in inner-city schools with decrepit buildings and a lack of critical resources.

And for the past 20 years, one of the most talked-about solutions for parents stuck in dead-end, failing schools is to give them the option to use vouchers to send their children someplace where they could get a quality education.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Raymond Duke

    Roland Martin isn't nothing but a lap dog for Obama. He is clearly a racist in his views and hates white people(well anyone who disagrees with Obma). I don't watch cnn anymore because of people like him and Jack Cafferty even though I had watched cnn for years . They use to give it to you straight but not anymore. They really do make Fox look fair and balanced. Vouchers would be great for parents if it didn't lead to more tax payer money for failing schools. It don't help nobody if a bunch of thugs make it into the few decent schools that we have left.

    July 17, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. H. Charles

    So the solution is to let corporations, not licensed educators with degrees in that field, run our schools? If more parents in the African American community became more involved in the education that their kids are getting, maybe someone would listen. Join the PTA or the school board. Take some responsibility and make a difference. Teachers and parents have two different roles. But if the parents don't care about their kids' education why should the teachers? Don't make it seem like schools fail because of teachers. Its much more than that. Roland, you don't have to write everyday just so you can see your words in print even though they don't make sense.

    July 17, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Grand Rapids, MI

    We all want the best education for our children. My kids attend public schools and they are doing better than kids from some folks I know who attend charter schools, one of the so-called choice schools. Reform public schools by upgrading buildings complete with new technology and you will see the difference. Once we are able to provide equal technology and opportunity to all children, reward good teachers and get rid of the bad ones, public education will be restored to where it ought to be. Taking money away from it doesn't help matters. If people want to go to private schools, let them pay for it.

    July 17, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. A side note.....

    I wish the "media" would (objectively) delve further into the background of Obama's "inner circle" and provide the public with an *objective* portrayal of them (Rev. Wright, etc.). It is terrifying to think that a man who has been molded by such extremist, racist, closed-minded, and just straight up shady individuals could even be up for consideration for the Presidency. IF and WHEN this does happen, his popularity will plummet.

    July 17, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Mike, Syracuse NY

    What happened Roland? Did Obama fire you as his spokeperson? This is the first time I've seen you say something not found on Obama's web site. Keep this up and you might actually become an impartial journalist when you grow up.

    July 17, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. Serviceman

    Judy you got it wrong
    It's not no child left behind
    It's no child left a dime!

    July 17, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Like Obama has said, parents must be active in their childrens education. Vouchers aren't going to create a change in parenting responsibilities, it starts in the home.

    July 17, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Walter

    Obama is right and you are wrong. Adequate funding for public education is the only answer to the problems of our students, particularly those of the inner-cities.

    Your listeners can be forgiven for being taken in by this right-wing scheme to defund public education. The right has always played upon the desperation of the underprivileged to keep them from seeing their own interests clearly.

    But you should know better. Either educate yourself on this issue or keep your mouth shut.

    July 17, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. bob in L.A.

    I am the product of a private school education,one my single mother stove very hard to pay for with no vouchers. Like the new push for off shore drilling vouchers don;t correct the problem for millions of children; the problem is the schools themselves.
    Yes teachers are underpaid and there is a lack of supplies for a proper curriculum but where is all the money being poured into these schools going? Cut the fat, cut administrations focus on education at the elementary school level and really teach these kids. This will solve a large amount of the problems.
    If kids go to school and are made to feel that educaiton is everything for their future, there will be fewer dropouts, less vandelism (why do American kids detroy everything???) and and a better sense of self. All this in turn will make the teacher's jobs easier and vouchers will not be needed. Make the parents part of the solution, don't give them vouchers to find better paid babysitters elsewhere while they do nothing- these are their kids first and foremost.

    July 17, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. lesson

    Its privatization of the public school system to find a way to make money from an institution that was functioning well until the last 20 years. Just when these schools started popping up. Hmmm....

    Like bottled water, if you 'create' a market, even unneeded, you have to demonize or actually sabotage the other.

    July 17, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. selected not elected

    I think Obama is wrong on most things... but then he just changes his position once he finds out what is polling well at the time.

    Obama has no good, fresh ideas- he just takes the position that is currently in favor, based on opinion polls.

    Obama will destroy the democratic party in his effort to prematurely grab the white house.

    July 17, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |

    Martin, I think it's a great opportunity for innercity children, but not all public school children will be approved for these vouchers.

    With that said, public schools need better funding and I think they know that. I would like to see the public schools cleaned up rather than a "quick fix". This problem should be addressed immediatly, but who cares about the public school children right?

    Thank you so much.

    July 17, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Abby

    use the money to fix the public school system. Its the system that made america great!

    July 17, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Could Roland Martin be any dumber? Vouchers are not the answer to the failing education in America. Our public schools need to be tuned up so that the United States has the best public school system in the world. Vouchers are a band aid, not a solution.

    July 17, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Texun

    The practical difficulty is too many states, including Texas, do not have adequate supervision of charter schools. Some of them seem to run well while others have been take-the-money-and-run enterprises. Choice is certainly defensible, but taxpayers are entitled to accountability and responsibility along with choice. Some charter school proponents accept the need for supervision while others claim that it would violate their religious liberties. What it comes down to, I think, is that if they take taxpayers' money, they must be accountable in a meaningful way to taxpayers!

    July 17, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Grand Rapids, MI

    In Michigan, a side-by-side performance of charter and public schools prove that public schools are better! Put money in public schools by ending the Iraq war, ending oil subsidy and you will see a huge difference. Grand Rapids, Michigan is rebuilding the inner city schools with new buildings equipped with new technology and already there have been significant improvements in test scores, etc. That's the way to go; not vouchers.

    July 17, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. Raymond K Hessel

    Roland, you're taking the bait. Drinking the koolaid. Yeah, they'll give you vouchers. But those vouchers will only pay 20% of the total cost of your kids education. You'll be in hock up to your eyeballs once your kid graduates from the 6th grade. Good luck with that.

    July 17, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Not bitter nor angry

    Obama is nothing but a panderer... once he figures out that his position on an issue- like school vouchers- is not polling well, he will change (I mean clarify and 'refine' ) his own position.

    This man is a danger to democracy.

    July 17, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Ian

    Couldn't we just double No Child Left Behind.....again?

    July 17, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    Roland, that's the beauty of our nation, we can disagree! Just because we support, Sen. Obama does not mean that we agree 100% with everything he believes and values!

    I for one, am a Catholic who is against abortion and the death penalty. Yet, I see "life" as more than the baby in the womb, ITS ALL LIFE THAT'S PRECIOUS!

    I am a product of a Catholic education, and we sent our children through Catholic schools, but I am against vouchers! Why? Because IT IS ELITIST TO START SEPARATING CHILDREN OF THE HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS.

    Let's work on making public schools great. Let's increase teachers salaries so that we attract the cream-of-the-crop of colleges to the teaching profession.

    Those of us, who can afford private and religious schools already do send our children. We need to help the public school system be the best in the world!

    July 17, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. sad for party unity

    Obama is all over the map with his positions on issues... He tries to please EVERYone- the left, the center, African Americans, conservatives, White people....

    He needs to take a stand and stick with it- whether that position polls well or not.

    Stop this blatant political posturing just to steal the election.

    July 17, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. voter

    vocher for private school is not acceptable. People pay taxes toward the school system. Why hasn't it been used to fix the public school? Where is our money going to that we have to fight with our representatives to receive more funding for public schools. It does not make sense. If parents can afford and choose to send their children to private schools that is fine. For those who cannot afford private school and are paying taxes to the public school system, there is an expectation to have the schools functional. It is inexcusable to have the public schools failing despite paying taxes into the system. it is ridculous. I am starting to think that the school taxes are being used to give the rich their tax break.

    July 17, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Karl

    Martin, I usually agree with you. But, I can't on this one. Year's past, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Clark and others fought to ensure equality in public schooling. Vouchers distract local, state and national leaders to correct the disparities within certain schools.

    The way I see it, voucher equates to separate and unequal.

    Martin, would you identify the true reasons why schools fail? What is the merit in leaving public schools behind?

    July 17, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. IQ


    July 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. mk

    Using vouchers before we make sure every public school is serving its students at its full potential seems to me like an invitation to the failure of public schools.
    Once all schools are up to snuff then vouchers would be just fine, BUT, I bet they wouldn't be as popular.

    July 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
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