Congratulations to John McClaughry for a superb presentation of the case for family choice in education ("Who Says Vouchers Wouldn't Work?" Jan.). Your readers should note that even as his article appeared, the only respectable argument against vouchers was being pulverized in Nebraska. Private-school parents in that state do not receive one dime of direct or indirect financial assistance from government, but that fact did not stop Nebraska's bureaucrats from moving to shut down schools that do not comply with state regulations. Those who think they can secure freedom for private schools by opposing vouchers are simply kidding themselves.
Educational freedom depends on two things: (1) a large and active private-school constituency and (2) an absolutely clear understanding that parents, not the state, are the primary custodians and decision-makers for children. Vouchers would nourish both.
Lawrence A. Uzzell Learn, Inc., Washington, DC
My compliments to Reason and John McClaughry for the excellent article about vouchers (Jan.). Two statements made in the article prompt me to add the following.
First, LeRoy Chatfield and I intend to qualify our California School Voucher Initiative for the November 1984 ballot, not the June primary.
Second, it is not true, as suggested by Mr. Klausner in his sidebar to the voucher article, that vouchers are more likely than tax credits to foster government control of private education. I agree that pressures to regulate private schools will increase when all institutions are forced to compete. But it is the reality of competition, not the mechanism (tax credit or voucher) creating competition, that stimulates the regulatory activity.
That is why our initiative constitutionally prohibits new state or local interference with private schools. And a constitutional protection is the best any scheme (tax credit or voucher) can provide. Private schools now must comply with certain provisions of the state education code, so the power of legislators to regulate private education is not in doubt. That power does not depend on how private schools are funded. Legislators will attempt to use that power if encouraged to do so by aggrieved interests (for example, government educators distraught over loss of a captive audience or disgruntled parents who expect private schools to satisfy all consumer demands).
It is naive to argue that tax credits somehow obviate the possibility of government control. A government agency can specify requirements for schools eligible to utilize tax credits as easily as it can promulgate rules for schools receiving vouchers.
Mr. Chatfield and I endorse tax credits as a means of improving educational quality. But our support is not based on the mistaken notion that tax credits will shield private education from a hostile reaction to competition. Only a constitutional amendment will block government intrusion. And that is what we have written.
Roger Magyar Parents Choose Quality Education Sacramento, CA
Selling Land to Save Social Security
I congratulate Loren Lomasky on his article "Buying Out of Social Security" (Jan.). In my view, he clearly stated the problems and realistically assessed both the political and economic factors that must be taken into account when redesigning the system.
I am especially impressed by the article's concluding section, which advocates dealing with the deficit of 50 billion dollars per year over the next two decades by selling the federal government's land holdings. My colleague, Rick Stroup, and I have advocated that approach for the past several years. Specifically, we have advocated this policy at several academic meetings and in the chapter "Timber Beasts, Tree Huggers, and the Old Folks at Home" in our recent book Natural Resources: Bureaucratic Myths and Environmental Management.