Wow, big news yesterday: President Bush spoke about school vouchers in the District. That's right: the President acknowledged that D.C. actually exists.
Ha ha, just kidding. Although I think this may be the first time Bush has even thought about D.C. affairs, let alone spoke there. The reason was to stump for private school vouchers, which it looks like the District might be experimenting with at some unspecified point in the future.
Obviously, there's a lot of debate about whether vouchers work, which I'm not going to go into here. You probably already know what the proponents and opponents think. Here's what Bush said:
He said the visit was intended to underscore his administration's commitment to more choices for parents in communities that lack enough good schools. "The District of Columbia needs to improve. Let me just put it bluntly," he said. "There are some great schools in the District, and there are some lousy schools in the District."Ouch, burned by the prez. He speaks the truth; there's no debating that public schools in D.C. have some serious issues. The question is, are vouchers going to help?
Well, I think they'll definitely help the kids who use them. According to the article, "The plan Bush is now pushing would establish a $75 million national "choice incentive fund" from which $15 million would be used in the District to fund private school vouchers of up to $7,500 per student."
That's a pretty good amount of cash, and at first I thought it would certainly pay for a free ride at most local private schools. To satisfy my own morbid curiosity, I decided to look up what it costs to attend a private school in D.C. The first one I looked up made me groan:
Archbishop Carroll: $6,000 for Catholics, $6,250 for non-Catholics.
Uggghhwwwoooo boy. Does that mean that federal tax dollars could be used to subsidize a $250 "heathen" surcharge on students who happen to not be Catholic? That just opens a big can of worms; opponents already criticize the voucher idea as being a violation of the whole church-and-state-must-be-separate thing; a private Catholic school charging the taxpayers extra for sending "outsiders" there would add flames to that fire.
But still, even with all the fees and book costs and whatnot, $7,500 would cover a year of classes at that school. But it turns out that that's one of the few bargains in D.C. I looked up all the D.C. private schools I could find on the web, and most disclose their tuitions. Note that this is 2002-03 or 2003-04 tuition only, so no activity fees or book costs and the like are included. And these are just D.C. private schools; for all I know, the voucher program would allow kids to attend schools in Virginia in Maryland also.
Archbishop Carroll: $6,000 for Catholics, $6,250 for non-Catholics.Um, wow. I had no idea it cost so much to attend private school in D.C. (Holy fuck. No wonder I can't afford to live here.)
Capitol Heights Day School (K-8): $14,450-$16,750.
Georgetown Visitation Prep (girls): $13,100
Sidwell Friends (K-12): $19,975-$20,975
Washington International School (K-12): $17,500-$19,670
Georgetown Day School (K-12): $17,425-$20,095
Rock Creek International School (K-8): $16,975
Maret School (K-12): $16,725-$19,850
National Cathedral School (girls 4-12): $20,225
British School of Washington: $13,400-$16,900
St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School: $16,150-$16,950
Parkmont School (6-12): $17,200
St. Anselm's Abbey School (6-12): $14,800-$15,100
National Presbyterian School (K-6): $14,945
Edmund Burke School (6-12): $20,500
Field School (7-12): $18,700 (in 2001-02)
Sheridan School (K-8): $16,555-$18,383
Center City Consortium (K-8): $3,100
Lowell School (K-6): $16,950
Emerson Preparatory School: $8,000
St. Albans (boys): $21,837
(continued in next post)