The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss -- who sends her daughters to private schools -- lashed out recently in her The Answer Sheet blog against Mitt Romney's ideas for education reform, in which school vouchers are a central piece.
Romney's ideas are predicated on "an ideology that demonizes unions." Strauss complained in her May 24 post -- which was also printed in the May 28 Washington Post on page B2 -- concluding that "if Romney gets a chance to run education policy according to his new plan, [you can] expect things to get worse."
Yet when it comes to having school vouchers that could empower parents to defray some of the cost of the private or parochial schooling, Strauss believes Romney's voucher plans would be wasted on poor parents, who clearly can't be bothered with having to shop around for the best school for their children:
In a Romney-run education world, the parents of poor and special education students would choose a school — public or private, based on standardized test scores and other data — and then a specific amount of public money would follow the child to the school.
It’s a voucher system that would, among other things, require families of the neediest children to constantly shop around for schools in an unstable market and would likely exacerbate the very thing — a chronic achievement gap — all of this is supposedly intended to fix. Obama opposes vouchers.
Strauss is also dismissive of Romney's skepticism of teacher certification:
Romney opposes what he calls “unnecessary” teacher certification requirements, leaving the teaching door open to anybody who, for example, thinks they can teach math because they got good grades in the subject.
At press time, Georgetown Day School (GDS) has not returned my email inquiry as to their policy regarding hiring teachers who lack public-school certification. That said, a GDS spokeswoman on the phone yesterday did tell me that a number of their teachers have come from other professions, suggesting that teacher certification is lower on their priority list than say hiring successful individuals with a knowledge of and passion for the subjects they teach.