Bush’s school funding plan incompassionate

Likely Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush revealed the main component of his prospective education agenda two weeks ago. He proposes eliminating federal education funds to schools where students perform poorly, and give more to schools where students perform well. But instead of working to improve education across the board, the plan would threaten equal access to education for underprivileged students.
Bush’s plan is to identify struggling public elementary and high schools and eliminate their federal funding to encourage those schools to improve. He further proposed reallocating the funding to families with children at these schools, up to $1,500 annually per child. The money could only be spent on education alternatives, like private schools or tutors.
Without using the term “voucher,” Bush’s proposal is essentially the same concept. In school districts that operate under a voucher system, money is taken from the school and given to parents as vouchers to be used on other forms of education, usually private schools or tutors. The Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, is critical of Bush’s proposal, saying its methods “undermine our public schools, which educate about 90 percent of our children.”
Bush would only allow up to $1,500 per year to be given to parents, an amount that is too insignificant to produce any results. Parents would be allowed less than $180 per month to spend on education alternatives. That amount is insignificant when compared to the cost of private schools, which often cost several thousand dollars per year.
The proposal would only affect schools that already perform poorly. Statistically, the schools with the lowest-scoring students are in neighborhoods with the lowest amount of property tax revenue. Bush would take money from these already impoverished schools as an implicit punishment for performing poorly, a tactic that would likely decrease the school’s performance. Additional money would then be allocated to schools that perform well, although these schools are already in districts with large amounts of property tax revenue. Bush’s proposal would benefit well-off students who already receive a quality education, while children in the most desperate situations would be further hindered from receiving a decent education.
The voucher system has been criticized by many educators and education experts. By taking money from under-performing schools, Bush’s disguised voucher system would punish children for the existing flaws in the school funding system. If this proposal is an example of compassionate conservatism, voters should question Bush’s judgment, and whether his compassion extends to all economic groups.