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.

Full story

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

    When the public education that your tax dollars pay for do not provide an adequate education to your children–you should be able to opt for another institution that may do a better job. YOu should not have to pay AGAIN for that privilege.

    Education taxes funds should be transferred to the new school–or a voucher be issued to the taxpayor for reimbursement–then paid to the new school.

    July 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Belle1

    Wow....Martin for the first time, chooses to criticize Obama?

    July 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. DflateMacsStr8TalkXpress: Econ MIA, AWOL on facts, POW from reality

    And meanwhile the public schools get shafted for the more prestigious private and charter schools leaving the same problem in most inner city and poorer areas. How about incentives for top-notch teachers to direct their skills and resources to the public schools in the under-served areas?

    July 17, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. lifelong DEM and fed up

    Obama will make history:

    For destroying the democratic party.

    For his premature grab at power and the whitehouse without any accomplishments, experience, qualifications whatsoever.

    As the weakest and least qualified candidate that the democrats ever SELECTED as a nominee- just because he is black.

    For WASTING more money on his self-promotion and glitzy campaign than ANY other candidate in history- in a party that believes in campaign finance reform and public funds- and as a candidate who has until now, always advocated for campaign finance reform.

    For having stolen the nomination from the BEST qualified candidate, by playing the race card, strong-arming at caucus, threats to blackout the vote and manipulating the media into providing ONLY positive coverage of himself and his wife.

    July 17, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. TonyinKentucky

    This entire concept is an attempt to completely undermine public education that is wrapped up in a Trojan horse.

    First, the vouchers seldom if ever will cover the costs of a private school.

    Second, even if they did the vast majority of children would be left behind, private schools do not have the capacity to take on a huge percentage of public school kids.

    Third, you shrink the remaining pie of resources for those that cannot afford private schools and those that aren't prepared to make the jump.

    This is a dangerous concept that will undermine equality and future opportunity for many more than it can help.

    It's not just your kid, it's all kids. We need to raise the level of our public schools, not dismantle them.

    July 17, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. matt

    How do those inner-city kids get to those private schools? This is the problem with the American education system. Everyone thinks the answer is to send kids to private school. First of all. Its easier said than done. Second of all, isnt that completely overlooking the root problems of the education system in america? Noting the differences between the inner-city schools and the schools in the suburbs?

    Its like increasing oil production instead of investing in and using other sources of energy.

    Do we try to do immediate fixes that wont have any long-term consequences or attack the roots and actual causes of these problems? I'm sorry, but I prefer the latter

    July 17, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. DOH!

    Sure, if you want to destroy the public school system

    vOUCHers.......a horrible idea.....

    July 17, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Don

    Some of these Obamabots are stupid. Do u think telling parents to get invloved in their childrens lives will fix the education system? Offer solutions lke McCain is putting forth for christ sakes. Sooner or later, some of these Obamabots will start seeing that Obama will not fix everything and they will be left disappointed.

    July 17, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Dave in Atlanta

    I tend to agree with Martin on a lot but here I disagree. Private school education has become so expensive that even with vouchers most parents wouldn't be able to afford it. Meanwhile, de-emphasising public education is just going to cause people to lose interest in the system and cause it to go down further.

    Someone accurately pointed out that the reason private schools do so much better is that they don't have to deal with misbehaving children. I think there should be legislation to hold parents responsible for their children's performance and behaviour in public schools

    July 17, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. Cracka lova

    it is all good and dandy until the private schools are overwhelmed by minority students.........then we all know what will happen.....we need to try and make the scale more equal......because everyone will not be able to attain a voucher.....and we all know this.......vouchers are pandering

    July 17, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Gene

    How about improving the schools instead running away with your wallet and your voucher ? Talk about "cut and run".

    July 17, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Latrece

    I guess with the vouchers we can all send our children to the best school in the surburban neighborhood. If parents can't pick up their own children in theri community what makes you think that can pick up itheir kids across town. Having vouchers also takes away from having quality education in all areas of Ameica's corners, not select areas. Also on your radio, you have heard paretns wishing that they did not have to bus their children across town to go to school. They want good education everywhere. Vouchers are copouts to avoid dealing witht eh real issues with teachers and curriculum. No wonder this article is short because it is so wrong.

    July 17, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. roger dowdle, lockhart, Tx

    The main problem with vouchers is that it will create a greater demand for enrollment in private schools, who will then be able to pick and choose who to admit, leaving the students with less ability or learning skills back in the public school system. Better to require the public school teachers to increase their competency (which the teachers union will fight) so they can do a better job of teaching. And they should stop teaching to tests!

    July 17, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Linda31

    Why would you have vouchers to go to another school instead of improving the school? So if every child of one school received the voucher to go to another school, that school would be shut down and the other school would be over crowded. Simple example, but valid point. Why can't we improve the education system.

    July 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  15. JIM...TX

    Half the problem with kids failing in schools is not the schools but their homelife. OR lack of such. Parents these days in the inner city and others are not being responsible for their kids upbringing in all areas not just education.

    July 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  16. tony

    Hey Bulldog & Zina and the like-
    It takes more tax payer money to do that-
    It's called Performance Based-Just not throwing money at it-
    The area if it's bad will never change-
    So you have a novel idea-
    Let's fix it perfect so they can throw graffitti on a new surface–

    McCain right on this-the surge-and a host of other things-
    By the way to blame the Conservative press for talking about his wife is nonsense-Hillary started that and everyone knows it–

    If Mr. Obama wants to be President he's going to have to get some more experience as well as thicker skin–

    When people go to the voting booth and realize the differences in Character-They will have a harded time pulling it for Obama–

    He's making decisions about places without even consulting those in the know ( that's called shooting from the hip )
    Certainly that and in this econmy to increase taxes is stupid-People will clam up even more–

    Regardless the reason we got into Iraq-WE have to leave a winner-
    Not a loser !!

    July 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. Kiah

    They won't agree on everything, so Mr. Martin your opinion is welcomed.

    Obama '08!

    July 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. John - Houston

    Ervin July 17th, 2008 1:22 pm ET

    Roland, sorry dude, I have to agree with Obama on this one.
    If everyone is allowed to send their children to better schools by simply avoiding "innercity schools", then we will have ABANDONED innercity schools, and ONLY thugs and the very poor will populate innercity schools


    July 17, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. J. Richter

    I believe that giving vouchers will never work as there are not enough funds. IF one person is allowed to leave a failing school, all should. Whose kid is going to be left behind.

    That said: Folks google Rowland Martin articles. This guy is a confessed friend of Rev. Wright and staunchly defended him during his travails. Is this a signal that the Wright crew is now anti-BO? We already know the Jackson crowd is.

    July 17, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Justice 4 All

    Sorry Roland, this is a well written and unbiased report, but I do not agree. I would rather see the government invest in repairing and upgrading the public school system. Even with vouchers, a majority of students will still have to attend public school. It is best for us to just do what we can to improve the failing schools, so that all students would have an equal opportunity to get the best education available.

    July 17, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. LaShanda

    How about fixing the ills of public schools FIRST? Roland, I respectfully disagree on this issue.

    July 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. proud army and navy mom

    roland, i like you but if you believe a word that comes out of mcbush's lips on this issue, i will cross you off my list of sensible people.

    george "war criminal" bush supported vouchers, didn't he? nothing came of it, because it was just lipservice. something some repugs thought might garner some extra votes.

    mcsenile is soooo insincere, he can hardly keep a straightface....it is really disappointing to me that you would take this man at his word. Mccain does two things....lies and denies!

    July 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. NO-KIDDING.....

    roland martin praising MCCAIN ? //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    practising reverse spin-spin-spin ? We are onto YOU ObamaS'
    slicker...and more...America knows to be a straight talker..unlike
    you know who....OBAMA

    July 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. steve

    Doesn't vouchers smack of elitism?

    July 17, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Jack Rivers

    Ok, so a low income family, in a failing school district , earning, say, $30k per year gets a $2000 voucher to pay tuition at a private school that costs...$30,000 per year. Then a family in a well to do school districts that earns $2 million per years gets a $2000 voucher to pay tuition at the same school. The rich family gets to send their kid to that private school no matter what. They are just getting $2000 for free. Meanwhile, the poor family (because the government absolutely can not afford to pay for 100% of tuition for all children) gets nothing, because they STILL can't afford the private school. So who gets helped? Still the rich family? Who gets screwed, the poor family. "School vouchers" do NO one any good other than families who can already afford to send their kids to a private school.

    July 17, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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