Former Washington, D.C., mayor and current D.C. Council Member Marion Barry comes out in favor of school vouchers, provided the money does not come from the existing public school budget. That proviso relieves much of the competitive pressure that otherwise might encourage public schools to improve, but at least Barry acknowledges the desirability of choice and diversity in education:
I support this package [$74 million in federal money for public schools, charter schools, and private school scholarships] because it provides much-needed financial support to all D.C. schools and because it offers parents a choice without hurting public schools. That's a win-win situation. We must make sure that children in the District are given every chance to attend schools that work for them. To do anything else is wrong.
Is it too much to hope that, if voucher-equipped students leave D.C.'s public schools in droves, the reduced enrollment will one day lead to a lower budget? The Cato Institute's Andrew Coulson estimates that "DC public schools are spending about $24,600 per pupil this school year—roughly $10,000 more than the average for area private schools."