When his 5-year-old son brought home a school newsletter in December, Kenneth Daniel read its account of various holiday traditions. As he perused the Arlington, Virginia, public school publication, he was dismayed to find no reference to Christmas. And in a story about the first “evergreen tree,” Martin Luther was identified as “a German clergyman.”
For Daniel, the school newsletter was the last straw. In a letter to the Washington Post, he fumed that calling the leader of the Protestant Reformation “a German clergyman” is as absurd as “describing Abraham Lincoln as a ‘lawyer from Illinois.’ … This sort of revisionist protectionism ill serves the educational process.” A week later, the Washington Post endorsed Daniel’s position in an editorial.
Concern about the quality of public education focuses on a breakdown of discipline, a lack of emphasis on basic skills, and a neglect of moral values and religion. As a result, a growing number of people, including U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett, are advocating “parental choice” in education.
Last year, Bennett proposed a voucher system that would have made federal money available to low-income families who want to send their children to private schools. That plan died in a congressional subcommittee, but Bennett has introduced a new plan as part of President Reagan’s budget proposal.
The plan would assist low-achiever children from poor families, primarily in elementary schools. Instead of using the word “voucher,” it recommends issuing “compensatory education certificates (CEC’s).” This approach would allow local school districts—not ...1
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