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. Jimmy in NY

    I think we should invest more into our failing schools to help them out rather than reward the private schools. I went through the public school system and I can tell you that I had teachers who taught and I had teachers who napped. We just need to help those teachers that teach by giving them support in both the schools and at home.
    Did you know that the average principal(VP) in NY makes over 100K a year? The average Superintendant(CEO) over 200k irregardless if their schools do well or not. Teachers make a paltry 40k(even less because some have to pay for their own supplies). Look at where the money goes and let's reward not punish teachers.
    'No Child Left Behind' was supported by George W. Bush nuff said!
    Obama in 08!

    July 17, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. Alex in TX

    The real problem isn't with schools, it's with parents.

    You can get the equivalent of a college degree with a library card if we would only set an example for kids and turn off the playstation and read a book.

    July 17, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. ANGIE

    what about ones that will be denied these vouchers i think the focus should be fixing all scholls!!!

    July 17, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. JJ

    "But this is one time where he should have opposed them and made it clear that vouchers can force school districts, administrators and teachers to shape up or see their students ship out."

    This is typical GOP stance, use fear and threats to get what you want. This is no way to reshape the education system, particulary in our inner city schools.

    Sorry Roland, you and McCain are wrong and Obama has it right.

    July 17, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Obamalism

    Jack Rivers – $30k per year? Seriously... no one expect to send their kid to a Harvard prep school. There are lots of private schools that cost 2k/ year.

    Vouchers won't solve the problem, but at least it will help a few kids..that's a few more than previous 'solutions'.

    July 17, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Tired of W, OH

    Dead wrong, Roland. So, how does a public school retain good students and teachers when they can just get a voucher to go elsewhere? If charter schools are the best solution, why not just close all of the public schools and make all of the students attend charter schools? Because it's rediculous and so are vouchers. Are the public schools supposed to suddenly feel threathened and decide to clean up their act? Is that the theory? If you believe that, then you're the one riding into Candy Land on a unicorn, not Obama.

    July 17, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |

    Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee, says vouchers are the right way to go to give parents an option for a better education, while Sen. Barack Obama says the GOP has talked and talked about vouchers, and it hasn't amounted to much more.......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.ROLAND WHO IN THE are you to SAY who is RIGHT OR WRONG ......THE PUBLIC schools just need improvement,better pay for the teachers and hold parents responsible for their CHILDREN performance and behavior in the Public Schools

    July 17, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. maxx Atlanta GA

    My daughter has been on a waiting list in NY for four(4) years waiting for a voucher, her son has graduated HS this June. Its more bureauracy and do we really want our tax dollars going to private schools and schools in our community (PS) being destroyed...fix our schools and teachers...... we want the best education for our children in our communities now we cannot afford to be on a waiting list. Most of the kids end up at Catholic schools in NY .... wheres the separation between church and state???? Vouchers are fine but not at the expense of taxpayers and sometimes those private schools are not doing their best just collecting taxpayers dollars.

    July 17, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana



    July 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Diane

    I was watching McCain's speach in Kansas today & was stunned to realize how out of touch he really is! He was talking about child porn on the internet, & "he's not sure about Obama, but he dosen't think he's doing anything, & he knows CONGRESS & NO ONE else is doing anything to protect our children from chat room petifiles, child porn, or the slave trade, & our children are in DANGER!"
    He's obviously not aware that there are already laws in force, & law inforcement are constantly working to investigate, enforce, & procecute these pedifiles.
    His rederick is about 20 years behind the times, & he should know more about the internet & laws before stuttering out things he knows nothing about, just to have something to say! And trying to scare uninformed parents! (I can't believe some people actually clapped)
    I'm Independant, but the more he opens his mouth, the more I'm sure, I WILL NOT BE VOTING FOR McCAIN!!
    A retired corrections officer

    July 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. linbit-Greensboro, NC

    We need a strong PUBLIC school system. If people want to go to a private school, let them pay. Public money needs to go to public schools. Roland, you're wrong on this one.

    July 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Susan

    Please, please, please stop posting stuff by Roland Martin. He's so annoying on tv and reading his blathering here it too much. He is B Grade and belongs on Fox.

    July 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Don Colony14Author, Mt Prospect, IL

    Poster Zina said, "If one child can be allowed to attend private schools with tax payer money, why not all?" Well, that's exactly the point of a voucher system! The public schools (or "school's", as those of you who attended the worst public schools spell it) are often poorly run because their pathetic performance is subsidized by the taxpayer, they often have little or no competition, and it's virtually impossible to fire the worst teachers and discipline the worst students. Private schools raise the bar, forcing the public schools to compete. If the public schools improve, that's great – everyone is better off. If the public schools fail to improve, more parents waving vouchers in their hands will prompt more private schools to open.

    What's the worst that could happen? A nation full of well-run and effective private schools and no poorly-run public schools. What's wrong with that?

    The alternative is to continue to do what we've been doing: Let only the parents who can afford it send their kids to the private schools, while unfairly also paying for the worst public schools, and force the poorest families to continue sending their children to the worst public schools in order to let the unions protect the jobs of the worst teachers.

    Why do so many of the poorest people continue to vote for democrats who oppose voucher systems, which are the best way for their children to escape poverty and have prosperous lives? Follow the money, folks, and it clearly leads to teachers unions supporting democratic candidates. They make those contributions for their own good, not for the sake of your children.

    July 17, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Heide

    Don't be so quick to decide that vouchers for charter schools is the answer. All schools should be lifted to the same playing field. In a large Indiana city near where I reside, there is a charter school that receives significant government dollars and managed by someone with a business degree. It is in its second year with no desks, the children sit at long cafeteria style tables, they have no books, the teachers must copy lesson plans and work papers to use and there is very little for the kids to take home to study from. It may seem better to someone trying to escape an undesirable neighborhood, but to someone attending a well managed public school, this charter school is woefully inadequate. It's results for good or bad won't show up for some time.

    July 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Sebastian Kent

    Not quite Roland ...

    School Education Vouchers in the amount of $5,000 amount to

    1.) a subsidy for the Rich when tuition costs are $8,000.
    2.) a tease for the Poor when tuition costs are $8,000.

    Fundamental market competition among schools is a good idea. However vouchers can not simply be another means to transfer tax payer wealth to the rich.

    July 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Republican for Obama

    Schools that lack basic functionality are one thing but the Taj Mahal complex NY state has at least is ridiculous. Our local school district completed a 54 million dollar capital project with new buildings, technology, and sports complex. I send my kids to the local parochial school that resides in an old building with the basics. The private school easily out scores the public system every year on state tests.

    Administrators can't seem to grasp the idea behind quality education and quality facilities. When I was a kid the smaller transports were panel vans with basic bench seats, now they buy Ford Expeditions. I work for a company that provides technology services to school districts in NY and if people knew the money they wasted they would be outraged. Try paying teachers more and giving them better resources instead of making the entire school wireless network enabled or buying a new furniture suite for the superintendent.

    July 17, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Obamalism

    No amount of MONEY will fix public schooling. They're failing because of what's in them. Many of the teachers are horrible and can't be fired because of the unions. The good kids that are forced to go there are surrounded by degenerates who don't want to be there, but are forced.

    Public schools will always fail because we allow the worst of the students to populate them and ruin the 'good' students chances of succeeding because no good teachers will put up with the ilk. Get the good students out and deal with the rest in some other manner.

    ANY improvement is welcome...

    July 17, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. Tony

    Everyone stop what you're doing and listen to another Mr. Know-It-All.

    Mr. Martin's opinions don;t matter anymore than the next guy or gal. So tired of these talking heads.

    July 17, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Dems are stuck in the fix they rigged

    Let's see:
    unqualified, no accomplishments, no experience, no qualifications, no track record... but somehow Obama is the nominee of the democratic party.

    Out of all the Great choices of candidates our party had to offer.

    And why is Obama, the least qualified, now the nominee?:

    1) He registered hundred of thousands- voters too selfish, too apathetic and too lazy to ever vote before. People who never cared for their country before, will now vote for an unqualified POP icon pushed by celebrities and hyped by the media.

    2) The candidate of change- has raised and spent MORE money than any previous candidate. Just to promote self and to prematurely make a grab the white house. Going against party ideals on campaign financing and going against his own position on campaign finance reform. WHAT a sad waste of money when people are starving and dying.

    3) Obama played the race card and now people will vote for him JUST because he is black- to avoid being called racists. The myth is that people are too racist to vote for Obama, but the reality is that he is ONLY the democratic nominee because of his race (half black) and that is why people are voting for him. Can't be based on knowing his positions, or his record- he has neither.

    4) Obama cheated his way to the nomination.

    July 17, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. roy

    this is just another on the long list that this loser Obama is wrong on. this clown does not know what he thinks until he looks at a teleprompter or he sees a new poll.

    July 17, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. angry angry hippo

    school choice – YES. but public schools. giving money to religious schools is just wrong.

    July 17, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. lenny

    school vouchers are a joke give that money to the schools and make them better. every school in the USA should get the same amount of money. Everything should be equal.

    July 17, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Mizzy

    Sorry, "fixed for Obama"
    ...but how exactly was the election stolen?
    I don't recall hearing about missing ballots, or other voting day improprieties-as in the '00/'04 Bush elections.

    Just because Hillary lost, doesn't mean someone else stole it from her. In reality, she was too prideful and felt so "entitled", that she and her staff just plain out, did not run the best campaign.
    History will show that had she spent time in those caucus states, and not just the BIG BLUE states, she would have beat him by a landslide.
    Fact is–she didn't. She took the 'Clinton' brand for granted, and quite frankly, many voters.
    Don't make false statements, even if you are not supporting a candidate-which is your right. Lying about the facts is not, however!

    July 17, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Phantom of the Oprah

    Obama the puppet nominee in this rigged democratic primary has consistently been wrong on the issires.... he hides it by simply 'refining' his position as needed, once he sees what polls well.

    Obama deserves to lose and so does the democratic party for fixing the primary for the black man- and sacrificing the BEST candidate just because she is a Clinton and a white woman.

    Race trumped gender and the election process was subverted to install Obama.

    Suffer in NOV for this betrayal of democracy.

    July 17, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Shana, Chicago

    I disagree with both candidates on this topic. There are two important issues in this education debate: one is that some schools are bad (not enough books for students, dilapidated buildings, etc.); and the other is that some students are failing. The second issue may or may not be a result of the first issue. Some students do poorly in school because of reasons beyond their control, such as being sick in the hospital with lukemia. Others, however, do poorly because of lack of parental involvement and lack of self-motivation. As long as there are mothers who believe that " my boy don't need to learn to read 'cause he goin' to the NBA", and teach this to their children, then there will be students who won't take their education seriously. Putting these failing students into new schools will not make them good students, we will just have failing students in good schools, and will most likely have a negative affect on the good students in those schools. Until the parents change their mentalities and make sure their children take their education seriously, nothing will change. Those parents also need to take responsiblity to get good jobs for themselves so that they can pay taxes to support their children's schools instead of burdening others with that responsibility (and our country as a whole needs to make sure that there are plenty of good paying jobs available for everyone)!

    July 17, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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