Serial No. 105-135


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce

Table of Contents *

OVERSIGHT HEARING ON SCHOOL CHOICE Tuesday, September 30, 1997 *

















Tuesday, September 30, 1997


House of Representatives


Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families


Committee on Education and the Workforce


The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:09 a.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Frank Riggs [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Riggs, Johnson, Souder, McIntosh, Peterson, Upton, Van Hilleary, Martinez, Kildee, Payne, Mink, Roemer, Scott, and Kucinich.

Staff Present: Vic Klatt, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Denzel McGuire, Professional Staff; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff; Rich Stombres, Legislative Assistant; Alex Nock, Legislative Associate; Dr. June Harris, Education Coordinator; Marge Huber, Staff Assistant.



Chairman Riggs. [presiding] Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

My name is Frank Riggs. I'm the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families, and I want to welcome you to our hearing. I want to take this opportunity to also greet my colleagues and just announce that we, hopefully, are not expecting a procedural vote on the House floor that should allow us to, not only obviously, commence our hearing, but hopefully get well into the hearing before any votes might interrupt us.

This is the second hearing in a series of three that we have planned for this fall that coincide with the resumption of school and families returning to school on the very important issue of more parental choice in education.

Today, we're pleased to have a distinguished and, indeed, very reputable and expert panel of witnesses who are well versed on the issue of parental choice in education. Dr. Paul Peterson is one of the most prominent researchers on school choice. Dr. Peterson is the director of the program on education policy and governance at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His research on the Milwaukee and Cleveland low-income school choice models, specifically student performance, has been cited in numerous newspaper articles recently, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Times. Dr. Peterson, we're going to make sure that those articles are part of the transcript and record of today's hearing. Most recently, Dr. Peterson authored an article in the quarterly magazine, Commentary, on the results of various studies on school choice models throughout the Nation, again focusing on low-income families.

Fritz Steiger, the president of CEO America--CEO stands for Children's Education Opportunity, I believe--also joins us today. CEO America is a private foundation that provides privately-funded scholarships--scholarships funded through charitable and philanthropic donations--to low-income parents to enable them to select the best possible K-12 schools for their children to attend.

Alieze--and did I pronounce that correctly, Ms. Stallworth, is your first name Alieze?--

Ms. Stallworth. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. --Stallworth, represents the District of Columbia PTA, Parents and Teachers Association. Ms. Stallworth testified before the Senate a few months ago on the state of the DC public school system, so her testimony is indeed very timely, given the problems in DC public schools and the pending debate on the House floor regarding tuition scholarships for District of Columbia families.

We're also fortunate to have one of the Nation's leading civil rights activists, Ms. Alveda King, with us here today. Ms. King is the president of the Atlanta-based King for America, Inc., and the niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Her "Save the Kids Now" coalition embraces school choice in addition to public choice schools, also called charter schools, as a solution for racial reconciliation and for boosting student achievement.

Our first hearing focused on various school choice proposals submitted by members of the House and the Senate. Today, we will hear from those in the field on whether parental choice--expanded parental choice--in education has a positive impact on disadvantaged students, as evidenced by improving test scores, and whether parental choice provides low-income parents with a valuable and beneficial option to the public school system. I might add, a valuable, beneficial and perhaps much-needed option to the public school system.

There are several ways to measure a good school. First and foremost is student performance, but there are other indicators of a successful school, including parent and teacher involvement, parental satisfaction, and community involvement and support. I expect today that we will find that private schools, serving primarily low-income students, excel in not just one of those categories, but rather excel in all of these measures of success.

I personally had a long-standing interest in public and private school choice and believe that providing a wide range of alternatives to families--in other words, giving parents the right to choose among all competing options--will help improve the quality of education in this country. For low-income families, a quality education is the greatest equalizer, and I think we can all probably agree on a bipartisan basis that access to a high quality education is in fact the cornerstone of equal opportunity in American society. For many beleaguered communities, private schools offer the only gateway to a challenging and high quality education for young people; and they are, in fact, our young people, and I have said before, I personally believe that our country cannot afford to lose another generation of urban school children.

We already have government-funded, taxpayer-funded choice in pre-school child care and in higher education, as the members of this committee know. For example, in the pre-school years, families may utilize government-funded child care at public or private facilities. In the post-high school years, students may take their Pell grants, their taxpayer-funded Pell grants, or student loans, and use them at the public or private college of their choice. Why not extend that same freedom for K-12 schools? Why not let freedom ring in public education? I believe we should. In short, the time is ripe for a national experiment in parental choice in primary and secondary education. Again, that is the principal focus of our hearing today.

Initial studies on the two publicly-funded school choice programs in Milwaukee and Cleveland, and studies of privately-financed school choice programs, such as the program represented by Mr. Steiger, for low-income parents point to increased academic performance on the part of participating students. A national demonstration in several cities, a national demonstration that perhaps will be patterned after the legislation proposed by our colleagues, Floyd Flake, Jim Talent, and J.C. Watts, will provide more comprehensive and complete data for us to review. Let's give it a try in several settings around the country and then have a thorough evaluation.

In closing, as I said earlier, our purpose here today is to receive testimony on the academic performance of students attending a private school through a low-income tuition scholarship program, and if, in fact, parents and communities support school choice as a means to better education and more opportunity for our young people.

At this time, I'll recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, my good friend, Congressman Martinez, for his opening comments.



Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I think freedom has been ringing in the public school system for a long time, and in the country for a long time. I don't know that this particular issue is a question of freedom ringing; more a question of equal access and equal quality education for all. I want to join you, however, in welcoming the witnesses that are here before us today. I know that we're both looking forward to their testimony.

Let me start by saying that the vouchers and charter schools have received a significant amount of attention over the past few weeks, as we've seen a major push by my friends on the other side of the aisle to politically capitalize on dissatisfaction and frustration of our parents in educating our children and their children. We have heard our friends use the words like "scholarships'' instead of vouchers to portray the message which their pollsters have said is so vital. It's commendable that so much effort is being put into ensuring that this message is not being lost, although I believe it's a little misleading.

I've never been one to craft my views or modify my position just because the latest questionable poll has produced certain conclusions. Instead, we ought to be concentrating on proposals and ideas that will increase the quality of education in this country for all students, not just a few, rather than destroying it for the many, while benefiting just a few.

Regardless of that, as I am sure it does not come as any surprise to any of you that I am adamantly opposed to use of public tax dollars for any voucher-like proposal; whether you call it scholarships or vouchers, it's the same thing. Not only does this raise some very serious constitutional questions, but these proposals will do very little to help only just a few students, while greatly benefiting those whose interest are entrenched in private schools. We cannot and should not ignore the problems of today's educational system while attempting to capitalize on political rhetoric.

Any proposal which invites the idea of providing private school vouchers dismantles an educational system which guarantees access for all by leaving choice in the hands of the private school admissions officers. In addition to the destruction of equality in the most basic opportunity--opportunity to learn--there is not one research study, despite what some of our witnesses might say today, which accurately provides evidence that vouchers improve student learning. Because of this lack of evidence, I see little reason to establish any type of Federal voucher program, including one in the District of Columbia. We have seen the existing voucher programs in Milwaukee and Cleveland provide no improvement in student achievement, despite the fact that they have been in operation for at least, in the case of Milwaukee, over six years.

In addition to the complete lack of policy basis for enacting any type of private school voucher proposal, the American people have spoken repeatedly that they have no interest in such programs. Over 20 States have held referenda on this issue and the citizens of all 20 States have rejected the voucher programs.

Our goal as public policymakers should be to construct broad policy which will improve the educational results of all our children--not just a select few. One of the most deeply rooted values in this country has been that all children are guaranteed access to education. The public school system has been an institution in this country which has provided this opportunity. Yes, there are problems in our public schools, problems which deserve and need our attention. As I said on the last hearing on this subject, those who support vouchers want to abandon our public schools and the vast majority of children who would remain in what already is an underfunded system.

Those of us in Congress need to show leadership in combating the problems that face us as elected leaders--not run away from them. Only by working within the public school system can we build upon the successes and learn from our failures in our attempts to educate all of our Nation's children with equal quality.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Martinez. At this point in time, the Chair would recognize other members for any opening comments, but I would point out this is our opportunity to hear from some very knowledgeable witnesses, so I'd like to keep the opening statements short if we could and then move right to them.

On the majority side, are there other members seeking recognition for an opening statement?

On the minority side? Mr. Kildee, and then Mr. Kucinich.

Mr. Kildee. No, I'm anxious to hear the witnesses.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you. Mr. Kucinich?



Mr. Kucinich. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee.

First of all, thank you, Mr. Chair, for holding this meeting, and as the Chair understands, there is such a pilot project in my district. I had the chance to look at it myself when members of the committee visited, and there are some interesting things to be said for that pilot project. However, over and above that pilot project, I hope that in these hearings we have a chance to inspect the underlying ideology which is driving the voucher program as well as the other issues that talk about academic choice.

My concern, Mr. Chairman, is that what is driving it is an attempt to disestablish, not only public education, but the entire public realm. I note that in the testimony we're about to hear there is a quote that says, and I'll read from it, "If public education in the United States were a business, investors would long since have put their money elsewhere.'' Now I want all of you to remember that quote because if you take the words ``public education'' and instead insert the words, ``If Medicare in the United States were a business, investors would put their money elsewhere.'' ``If social security in the United States were a business, investors would put their money elsewhere.'' `` If utilities in the United States--publicly-owned--were a business, investors would put their money elsewhere''--well, we have to understand that if someone is going to extol the virtues of the marketplace, it loses fact; it loses the sight of the fact that the marketplace does not produce democratic ideals.

We have a dynamic tension here. If we want to turn the whole of government over the private sector, say so; but if we want to be able to voice support for a system which is mixed in terms of pursuing public and private initiatives, we can do that.

I'm hopeful as we proceed with these hearings that we inspect the underlying ideology which in one way attempts to abolish everything that's public. If we intend to do that, we don't need a Congress of the United States; we just need a board of directors.

Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Kucinich. I might point out that I personally do feel at times like I'm a member of a board of directors in the sense that I feel like I have a fiduciary responsibility to Federal taxpayers and in terms of how their money is spent, and to continue with that analogy, so as to try to get the most bang-for-the-buck, the most return on investment.

Mr. Martinez. Mr. Chairman?

Chairman Riggs. Yes, Mr. Martinez?

Mr. Martinez. I'd like to ask unanimous consent to put in the record an article that came out in The Washington Post today on vouchers; it's very illuminating.

Chairman Riggs. Yes. Without objection, the article entitled, "Vouchers May Open Few Doors'' will be submitted for the record. I would also like to just note for the record that this article addresses the idea of tuition scholarships for District of Columbia families.


Chairman Riggs. With that, we are going to turn now to Dr. Paul Peterson. As I mentioned in my introductory remarks, he is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He and researchers Jay Green and William Howe have done extensive studies on private school choice, particularly the school choice pilot projects in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Cleveland, Ohio.

I'd like to also point out for the record, some of us have had an opportunity to attend field hearings in both of those cities, most recently Cleveland, conducted by our colleague, Peter Hoekstra, chairman of our Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, as part of our ongoing Education at a Crossroads project.

Dr. Paul Peterson, we're delighted to have you here this morning, we look forward to your testimony, and you may proceed at this time.


Mr. Paul Peterson. Thank you, Congressman Riggs, thank you, Congressman Martinez, for your opening statement, and I would like to try to keep my comments as focused as possible, not read the more extended comments that I have submitted, which I presume will be entered into the record.

Chairman Riggs. Yes, your entire written statement will be submitted for the record and will appear therein.

Mr. Paul Peterson. Thank you. Let me just try to make seven points quickly, because the seven points, I think, address some of the issues that have already been raised this morning.

First, let me say that I think at this point, we should be moving ahead with more experiments in school choice, not moving to a full-blown program overnight. In recommending experiments in school choice, such as the DC experiment that's on the floor of the Senate and is being brought to the floor of the House shortly, in which might well be a model for other such experiments in other central cities. The idea of experimenting, trying it out, looking to see what really would happen if you put this into place on an experimental basis, this idea has been endorsed by The New York Times, the Washington Post this morning, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and newspapers throughout the country. What's more, it's endorsed by low-income families living in our central cities.

Parents in central cities are desperate to rescue their children from dead-end schools. Terry Moe, professor at Stanford, reports that fully 79 percent of the inner-city poor favor vouchers, whereas the comparable figure for whites living in more advantaged communities is a still impressive 59 percent, but 20 percentage points less. In other words, it's the poor who are, in living in central cities, who are demanding vouchers. The movement among poor people in central cities in this direction is picking up steam, according to several studies out there. So that's my first point; the demand for experimentation is being voiced by both our leading outlets in the media and by ordinary citizens living in our central cities.

Secondly, spaces are available for experiments. The very interesting piece in The Washington Post today ignores the experience that we have had in cities around the country. We have similar experiments underway in Milwaukee, Cleveland, San Antonio--one's just beginning in New York City--and it has not been difficult to find places in private schools for those students coming into such an experiment. In New York City, we see 1200 new students going into private schools this fall as a result of the New York scholarships program. Now 20,000 students applied for that. Tremendous demand on the part of low-income families, but unfortunately, since it's a privately-funded program, only 1300 scholarships could be awarded, but almost all of them have been taken up and students are entering schools in New York City, as we speak.

The third point I'd like to make is that, based on the experiments that we now have from around the country, it is absolutely clear as crystal that parents are excited about the choice schools that they are able to attend when they receive a public voucher or a private voucher. There are four different studies, all of which show exactly the same thing. Our study of Cleveland shows that, of the students who go to the choice schools, nearly two-thirds report being very satisfied with the school they are attending; those remaining in the public schools, 30 percent are very satisfied--sixty-three percent to thirty percent.

If you ask about school safety--now one would think that school safety is fundamental--if you don't have that, you don't have much of anything. Now, if you ask the parents sending their kids to choice schools, 60 percent are very satisfied with school safety; just 25 percent of the families remaining in public school are satisfied with safety. And so on it is, with discipline in the school, private attention to the child, class size, the quality of the facility, teaching of moral values; in all respects, the families are much more satisfied with the private schools.

Well, how about retention? The data from Milwaukee and from Cleveland both indicate that choice schools do twice as good a job at keeping their students from one year to the next. Now central city families, poor families living in central cities, are very mobile families. Their households are frequently disrupted by all kinds of external forces. Nonetheless, those families who place their children in the choice schools like these schools so much they make special efforts to keep their child in that same school, reducing the mobility from one school to another by one-half in both systems.

Now, perhaps none of this would be important if kids weren't learning, but the evidence we have is that children are learning. We have studies from several cities, all of which point in the same direction. Despite the efforts of critics to say that these studies do not show strong student improvement, we have from Cleveland gains in math scores of 15 percentage points from last fall to this spring, and strong gains in reading as well. In Milwaukee, we have even higher quality data; we're able to follow it over a longer period of time and we find that after three years and four years in the school, students are make strong gains, such strong gains that if we could do the same thing nationwide, we could reduce by one-half the difference between the performances of whites and minorities on test scores.

We all know that this is one of the central problems in the United States today, the differential performance on tests of whites and minorities. It impedes access to higher education; it's creating all kinds of issues in our universities and access to jobs for minorities. One-half of the difference in the performance on these test scores is being reduced after several years in the choice schools in Milwaukee.

Finally, let me talk about democratic values. Some people say that really that's what it's all about. It's not about test scores; it's not about parental satisfaction; it's not about staying in the same school; it's about democratic values. Well, what is really interesting is that, controlling for family background, if a child goes to a private school as distinct from a public school, that child's attitudes towards other ethnic groups are better; there's less racial conflict; teachers report less racial conflict in the classroom; students report less conflict; they report more likely to have a friend of another race.

Private schools are more integrated than public schools. When you look community by community, it's more likely that a child will be going to a more integrated setting if they're going to a private school than a public school. If you look at attitudes toward respect for others, respect for democratic traditions, for every year that a student is in a private school that student, if of a minority background, and this is particularly true for Latinos, that student's attitudes towards democratic traditions and democratic values are enhanced. For every year in a public school, they are diminished.

So, we have a wide array of evidence that the private schools that we have in this country today are doing an excellent job of training our future citizens for participation in a democratic society.

Thank you, Congressman Riggs.


Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Peterson. We look forward to the opportunity to have some give-and-take here when we get to the question and answer period after the testimony.

Mr. Steiger, let's hear from you with your prepared testimony, and then we're going to stand briefly in recess for the vote that just started on the House floor and reconvene right after that vote. Go ahead.


Mr. Steiger. I'll make it brief.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members, for the opportunity to speak today to you. It's a real opportunity and a privilege for me to be here and I am privileged to bring to you today a message from hundreds of business leaders and from over 14,000 families, who currently participate in the Children's Educational Opportunity Foundation of America.

Our foundation enables low-income families to exercise a newfound freedom in the form of an educational voucher being used at any school, whether public, private, or parochial. Indeed, the growth of our foundation speaks for itself with programs now in 33 cities, from Orlando to Grand Rapids, from Phoenix to New York City, and to Los Angeles. Right here in Washington, DC, we have a program called the Washington Scholarship Fund, which some of you may be aware of.

Let me put in a plug here. On October 20, we are holding a golfing tournament with congressman and senators, who'll be helping raise funds for this privately funded program. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your willingness to participate in that golf tournament. The common name for our organization--

Chairman Riggs. It's not really tough to get me to play golf, particularly at a beautiful place like at Avenal--

Mr. Steiger. At Avenal, yes. Anyone else that's interested in playing, I'd be happy to talk to.

The common name for our organization is CEO America and it is by no coincidence that the leadership and resources for our effort come from CEOs and leading entrepreneurs across the Nation. It began in 1991 when Pat Rooney, the chairman of the Golden Rule Insurance Company, became concerned with the quality of the workforce coming from local schools and the plight of inner-city minority children. Rooney thought that a solution could be found in the Indiana legislature and lobbied for a new measure to empower parents in the educational process. Rooney's efforts were ignored by the State legislature, and so he began his own effort to provide parents with choices in education. He put up $1.2 million into a private foundation, known as the Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust, which empowered low-income parents in Indianapolis to choose the school which they thought was best for their children. Six years later, over one thousand low-income Indianapolis children have found new educational success and hope by moving to a school chosen by their parents, not dictated by the system.

Rooney wasn't by himself. The business community took notice and began to respond. When Steven Jobs, the former and now current chairman of the Apple Corporation stated, along with others, that a voucher system was necessary, after pouring millions of dollars and thousands of computers into the public systems without seeing any positive results, the tide really began to turn.

I can tell you emphatically that the $40 million-plus invested in our privately-funded voucher programs are a result of frustration and disenchantment with years of funding mentoring programs, computer programs, adopting school projects, and other such programs which have done little or nothing to reform a failing school system.

After reading an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Dr. James R. Leininger of Kinetic Concepts, Inc. followed Rooney by putting together an identical private voucher program in San Antonio in 1992. He teamed with General Robert F. McDermott, then the chairman of the USAA Insurance Company, and Larry Walker, the publisher of the San Antonio Express News. In fact, Walker was so concerned about the educational quality of our public schools that he said of the newspaper industry, "We may be out of business soon if our children don't learn to read.'' From San Antonio, the effort has grown tremendously as business leader after business leader comes forward to join us.

Most recently, as Dr. Peterson has already mentioned, a group of New York City business leaders has put up $7 million to establish a powerful option for low-income inner-city children and families. That program generated nearly 25,000 applications, but, unfortunately, only 1,300 families received a voucher through a lottery. A recent issue of Forbes Magazine made vouchers and parental school choice the cover story. Since that publication, we have seen hundreds of business men and women step forward who want to establish new programs in other cities.

Please understand, most of these business leaders have started their programs with the intent of going out of business. They know that there are only so many private funds to go around and they can't go on doing for years what should be done by the public education system. Has our project worked? You bet it has. Today, we have over 40,000 children on waiting lists, hoping for the opportunity to exercise school choice for themselves, demonstrating that there is a demand from parents to choose the school which is best for them.

Through CEO America, we have helped establish 33 programs which demonstrates to the Nation that parents will respond when provided an opportunity to make decisions concerning their children's education. These model voucher programs offer a glimpse at the possibilities when parents are brought into the education equation. Parental involvement increases, academics show significant progress, schools begin to improve and compete for the privilege of serving families, and safety and discipline become the rule rather than the exception. You'll find this to be the case in almost all of our programs.

The businessmen and women, which I work with in CEO, have a vision and a commitment to education reform. We hope that our elected officials all across America and those in power in public education will allow their eyes to be opened to the success of what is being accomplished. Because of the continuing education crisis, the business community has stepped forward to do what the education establishment has refused to do for years. Now is the time for those roles to be reversed.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to the questions.


Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Steiger. Ms. Stallworth, we will hear your testimony as soon as the subcommittee reconvenes after this vote. We stand in recess until that time.


Chairman Riggs. The subcommittee will come to order and we will reconvene our hearing. I apologize to our witnesses and the audience for the longer-than-expected interruption, it was actually two votes, back-to-back, on the floor.

Ms. Stallworth, you're recognized, and again, thank you for being here today, and you may proceed with your testimony.


Ms. Stallworth. Good morning. First, I take this opportunity to thank God for allowing me to make it here this morning and to thank you all for the opportunity to once again come before you on behalf of the public school systems.

I continue to be amazed by some of the statements that continue to be placed before parents and this community--in particular, when it's constantly pushed that vouchers are parent choice. Vouchers give private schools the right to choose those students and their parents who will attend. In Cleveland, for example, when their voucher program came out, parents were asked to submit a list of six choices, not their one top choice, but six choices. Many of those students ended up in unproven, newly-formed schools. In Milwaukee, the program originally stated that only 65 percent of those students in the private school could be voucher recipients. It later changed the legislation to read that 100 percent of them could be voucher recipients to foster the growth of newly-formed private schools. Yet again, unproven--unproven to be in the area of student success.

As I listen to the statistics given by Dr. Peterson, I've heard about the wonderful things that he's extracted from the original research done by someone else, but in that research I still have not heard from the parents whose children no longer attend those private schools. We need to start doing real research. Our children do not need to be, continue to be experimented on, as I've been offended by hearing this morning. They are not laboratory rats; they're human beings.

What we need to be looking at now are programs that have been proven to be successful, such as Success for All, direct learning instruction that can be used in public schools that will benefit all children. We continue to push programs that only helped a select few. As I listened to Mr. Steiger this morning, you have 1,200 students in New York who were approved for these scholarships. How many students are in the city of New York? That's a very small fraction. The 2,000 students being proposed for DC is only about 3 percent of our student body population. We have 78,000 students.

There's also an assumption that the only children who suffer in public schools that are deteriorating are poor students. I beg to differ with you. I'm a mother of three students who--my husband, we're a middle-class family who cannot afford to send my children to private school. We're not poor enough to qualify for the suggested vouchers; we're not rich enough to wait around and see if there will ever be a tuition tax credit. We represent the majority of America--the ones whose children will remain in public schools who, when they're stripped of funds--and I know that everyone here realizes that there is no way on Capitol Hill, when DC's budget comes up again, that if 2,000 students are attracted away from our schools, there's no way there going to want to fully fund DC public schools. They're going to say perhaps you need less money because you now have less children. We have next year for our infrastructure improvements--they need $100 million to keep our children from being in buildings with leaky roofs.

This school system was handed over to the District of Columbia by the Federal Government, who failed in its fiduciary duty to ensure that there was sufficient enough funds to repair those buildings that they handed over. I also venture to say that the Federal Government has also failed in its original fiduciary duty that came out of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. That duty was to provide a quality, a top quality public school education to all children in their neighborhoods. It was never about taking them out. It was about providing them the same opportunities where they live.

I've heard about going to private schools where they can be more integrated. It's not about integration; it's still remains the same question: Will the students who remain in public schools all be made available to them quality public schools? That's what this issue is all about.

As far as Dr. Peterson's research, I've read his comment that there needs to be further research before you wholesale the voucher idea and I agree with him, but we differ at this point. I don't believe research needs to be done by adding more schools and more cities to the program. I think you need to look at those existing programs and study to find out how successful, not only the students are in the private schools; we need to find out, as the claims have been stated, if the public schools have benefited at all. I think we would find that has not been the case.

We need to have a Federal Government that will concentrate on putting quality programs and work to help the Department of Education and other urban areas, do research to find those programs that have been proven successful. We need no more experimentation on our children. We need quality; we need success.

I see this issue as a civil rights issue. Our children all have the civil right to a top quality, public school, not a program that separates a few and sacrifices the majority. We need in this country to push our Federal Government to provide that opportunity for our children. What the citizens of this country need to do, instead of taking the few crumbs that are being thrown out at us, is to take an opportunity to tell Congress and the President that we demand and we accept no less than top quality public schools.

As a parent in Washington, DC, and a citizen of Washington, DC, I read this morning where our representative watched as her co-Congressmen voted 23-to-19 to support the amendments that are attached to our budget. Well, therein lies a problem; she's a non-voting resident. You're talking about a city that has no voting representation. If you want to do something for us, allow us to do this as a referendum; let our citizens truly decide for themselves if this is what we want. I think everyone should be given that opportunity. I do not think it's Congress' place to play that game. I think Congress' duty is to ensure that our city, for which at this point since we are not in a State, which you are the State for, receives and the officials are held accountable for, quality public schools. We have crumbling infrastructures and that's been used against us; but it shouldn't be used against us, because you have sat here and allowed it to occur.

So, what I challenge everyone here today is: Let's work for all children because all children is where our future lies. Without quality public schools within communities, the communities deteriorate; we all know that. The most important thing to this country is our children because they are our future; they are the number one line of defense for our country; they are our future leaders; they will be the ones taking care of us; we must do a good job of taking care of them.

Thank you.


Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Ms. Stallworth, for your testimony. Let me just point out that, for the record, that I believe Delegate Norton, obviously, has the same voting rights and privileges as any other Member of Congress in committee.

I wanted to ask you if you were aware, do you know what the current per-pupil expenditure is in the District of Columbia public schools?

Ms. Stallworth. The last official figure I saw was somewhere in the range of $7,800.

Chairman Riggs. Per child?

Ms. Stallworth. Per child; and if you read today's Washington Times, you'll find at least, I would say, six or seven cities in Virginia, Northern Virginia, that far exceed that amount.

Chairman Riggs. One other just quick question by way of background for the record of today's hearing. You said that you're a parent. Do you have children enrolled in the District of Columbia public schools?

Ms. Stallworth. I have three children enrolled in DC public schools.

Chairman Riggs. Okay, and do they attend their neighborhood school?

Ms. Stallworth. My oldest is in her neighborhood school; my middle child is attending Jefferson Junior High, where the principal has just been awarded, given a national award, for her achievement in improving, what has been mentioned here today, the morals of our students.

Chairman Riggs. Okay.

Ms. Stallworth. My third child--see, in DC we do have choice. We have the choice of looking at other public schools within the city and finding out if that's where we want our children and applying just as other parents do; we can all apply to send our children to other public schools.

Chairman Riggs. I see. So you do have some form of public school choice, and two of your three children attend school in a ward other than where you live?

Ms. Stallworth. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. If I understand correctly? Okay, thank you.

Ms. King, will you proceed with your testimony and then, unfortunately, we're going to have to excuse ourselves again for one more vote on the floor and then reconvene right after that vote.


Ms. King. Mr. Chairman, to the distinguished Members of Congress, it's a joy to be here with you this morning. My people perish for lack of knowledge, for lack of wisdom, for lack of understanding, and I'm grateful that the opportunity has been provided for us to have some light shed on this important issue.

I'm so encouraged by Ms. Stallworth's testimony, as a matter of fact, she said she agreed with Dr. Peterson in some areas. Interestingly enough, she agrees with me in many of the areas--the first one being that our children are first and foremost and that should always be our major concern.

I'm here on behalf of school choice and quality education in all areas, all levels, and all types. So, we must have school choice so that all parents can enjoy that opportunity to choose the best public school, the best private school, and the best charter school. I'm a product of public and private education; so was my uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; my daddy, Reverend A.D. King. Our family always made the most appropriate chose of education for the children. Now, we were blessed and are blessed enough to be able to make that distinction and that choice. There's so many Americans who do not have the opportunity to choose the best educational path and that's what we are fighting for.

I have been a public school teacher--I now teach at the college level. I've also taught in the private schools. I think the inalienable right of a family to say what is the best educational opportunity is being withheld from so many children, as has been articulated here by Ms. Stallworth.

Some families cannot afford to choose a private school, a charter school, and they don't always even have the opportunity to choose the best public school. So that's what we're fighting for. I'm certainly not standing here in favor of private schools over public schools or charter schools over private schools, or whatever; but just the opportunity for families to be involved in making that choice.

I have discovered that when families are allowed to make the appropriate choices, there's less apathy and more involvement. I see that in my own community and I've heard that voiced all over the country. I'm seated here in the Nation's capital, a citizen of the United States of America, and I feel, as a mother of six and a grandmother of three, that all children are my children. I have an extended motherhood as it were. I think that has come through the years as a parent and a member of the King family and as a civil rights activist.

You've heard statistics quoted here. I will go over some of them and to reemphasize those. We have strong indications of the escalating support for choice. A recent survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that 57 percent of all African-Americans support a voucher system, an increase of 10.6 percentage points from 1996. Another recent poll by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup found that 64 percent of blacks favored vouchers this year, up from 42 percent last year. Many school teachers in the public school systems, here in DC and across the Nation, send their children to private schools, so choice is being exercised. The support for choice is being heard around the country. I am just adding my voice to what I believe is an inalienable right and I believe that this is the greatest civil rights battle of the 1990's.

Thank you.



Chairman Riggs. Thank you very much, Ms. King. If you will bear with us through this current interruption, we will go vote on the House floor--I believe it's a single vote that is pending--and return and reconvene the hearing immediately after this vote. I do urge members--because I know there's a lot of interest in this subject and members want the opportunity to pose questions and make comments with our witnesses--to return as quickly as possible.


Chairman Riggs. The subcommittee will come to order. We will resume our hearing again, the second in a series of three hearings on parental choice in education.

Ms. King, thank you for your comments. You cited some recent polling data and I just would like for a moment to elaborate on the figures you cited. I think you made reference to the June poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies--

Ms. King. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. --that showed 57 percent of African-Americans surveyed, older than 18, favor government vouchers to send children to, and I quote from the survey, ``the public, private, or parochial school of their choice.'' I would like to note that figure increased--if we might have order, please--that figure increased from 57 percent of African-Americans to 86 percent in the child-bearing, 26 to 35-year-old age group.

Ms. King. Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. The same poll showed whites evenly split, 47 to 47 percent, while Hispanics support vouchers or tuition scholarships, private school choice for parents by 65 to 28 percent. Regardless of ethnicity, the parent age, 26-to-35-year-old age group favored vouchers or tuition scholarships by 64 to 34 percent--almost, obviously, two to one. I think you also cited a Gallup poll that was also conducted in June for the teachers' organization, the teachers' group, Phi Delta Kappa, and that poll showed that 71 percent of blacks, 68 percent of all non-whites, and 59 percent of urban residents favor private school choice.

I'm wondering if you could, I mean, if you have an opinion as to why there is so much momentum for tuition scholarships or private school choice for parents, number one; and again, why ethnic groups seem to support that concept by even larger numbers than Anglo-Americans?

Ms. King. Well, our ethnic groups are tremendously impacted upon with the education concerns in the urban areas and as we are polled, and as we have an opportunity to be more informed--that's why I began my statement with ``Our people perish for lack of knowledge,''--with understanding we know that schools will improve when you bring parents in on a greater level and have parents have more input into the choice of education for those children. I did bring with me, and I believe that you should have this before you, from Monday's paper, The New York Report--we have Virginia Gilder, who set aside $1 million to support a choice opportunity.

Let me just remind everybody who doesn't have that article what happened to the public school in that area when she opened up the avenues of choice. There's a particular school that's cited here in the paper, Giffen Memorial Elementary School; they hired a new principal, nine new teachers, two assistant principals, pledged an extra $125,000 for books, equipment and training. Now, this improvement of a public school was directly related to the support that came from ABC--that's Mrs. Gilder's organization--so what we're finding, that when parents are given the opportunity to improve the status of their children, then you're going to have improvement and you'll have agreement from the parental community.

So, the more information that parents get, the fears begin to dissipate, because people traditionally now have been afraid and concerned that we're going to destroy the public school systems. What I'm saying all across America is people--we can't destroy the public school systems; that's already happened. We need to build those back; we need to bring competition back and begin to rebuild and make the public school systems better.

Now, what we're finding is that people of good heart and good will are coming forward and saying, ``I will put real dollars up against government dollars to help with this process.'' We don't want to hurt the public school systems; we want them to be better. So as African-Americans perhaps, other ethnic groups and all parents--I don't want to qualify this into an ethnic war--but when parents are more informed, they're going to make better choices for their children; when parents are empowered to make choices, then the right choices will be made, and I would be almost willing to promise that many parents will continue to support the public school system. I know they will.

Chairman Riggs. Well, let me ask Dr. Peterson. Dr. Peterson, have you found any evidence yet in your studies, which, granted, are still sort of in the early stages, that competition in the form of expanded school choice for parents will actually cause the public schools to improve?

Mr. Paul Peterson. One of the things that we looked at in Milwaukee was whether or not the students who were given a choice did better than the students who lost the lottery and didn't get choice, regardless of where they went to school, regardless of whether they went to the private school or--and some of them turned, you know, decided in the end to stay in the Milwaukee public schools. There are magnet schools in Milwaukee; they may have gotten into one of them or something like that--and we found that those who had a choice did much better, regardless of whether they went to the public school or the private school, so long as they had a choice, as compared to those who didn't get that choice.

Chairman Riggs. That's very interesting. Do you expect that the students will sustain those gains as they matriculate through the schools and they move on to the later grades?

Mr. Paul Peterson. Well, the gains really pick up in the third year and expand in the fourth year. So it's in the fourth year that you get this major change in, such that minority performances are, close the gap substantially as compared to majority ethnic group.

Chairman Riggs. Now when Congressman Hoekstra and I were in Cleveland we heard some remarkable testimony. I want to quote from that testimony for my colleagues who weren't able to travel to Cleveland for that hearing.

We heard from Fannie Lewis. Fannie Lewis is a Democratic member of the Cleveland City Council. She's no stranger to Washington; she testified before our committee's joint hearing with the Ways and Means Committee in 1996; she's an advocate of the Cleveland scholarship program, and is a vocal critic of the current state of public schools. Fannie Lewis said, and I quote, in Cleveland, ``I'm convinced that parental choice is the salvation of poor, minority children.''

We also heard from a panel of parent witnesses, one of whom, Mr. Devlin Shakespeare, an African-American parent of a student at a parochial school in Cleveland, a parent who is getting tuition assistance through the Cleveland scholarship program, said, and I quote, ``I don't have time to wait for the school system to get its act together when I'm trying to raise my children.''

A long-time Catholic educator, Ms. Lydia Harris, a principal emeritus at Saint Aldophous School in Cleveland, an African-American, said, ``I'm passionate about it,'' referring to parental choice in education, ``because I've seen it succeed.'' In addressing the contention that somehow the parochial schools cream--take only the best kids, the brightest kids, the ones with the most ability to succeed academically--she said, ``There's no cream on the crop until we put it there.'' Just some remarkable testimony, and as I said to some of my Republican colleagues, we have a videotape of that hearing for anyone who would like to take the time to look at it.

Now, Dr. Peterson, you were recently quoted in a letter to the editor in the July 28 Washington Post, as saying, ``The results from Milwaukee, as well as the initial results from the second publicly-funded school choice program in Cleveland, are encouraging. They indicate that Congress should''--emphasis on the word ``should''--``approve legislation initiating additional experiments in other cities, including Washington to determine whether this school reform should be introduced nationally.''

Do you have an idea--and I'd like to also hear from Mr. Steiger on this--do you have an idea of what that kind of national program, what that legislation might look like, or any recommendations to share with us today?

Mr. Paul Peterson. Well, one of the things that would be very valuable is if you could find local government entities who would like to try an experiment. So, if you could set up a program which would allow local governments, whether they're school systems or other governmental agencies, who would like to design a school choice program for their community--there are different models and I think different cities could try different models. Five or ten experiments around the country would not be a huge sum of the money from the point of view of the Federal Government and could generate an enormous amount of information that could settle a lot of these debates.

I mean the debates that are taking place today are factual debates. They're debates about what will happen to people, what will happen to people in public schools, what will happen to people in private schools. These are not questions that are impossible to decide if we get information, and the information we're getting is getting better all the time. We have a lot more information today than we had two years ago, but there's a lot more that we could obtain.

So, I think allowing for a variety of different kinds of experiments in different places and specifically, I think it would be fascinating to follow up on a suggestion I had received from the mayor of Milwaukee, John Norquest, who is a Democrat whose take a real strong interest in getting high quality information. This is a mayor who's really committed to doing the best for his citizens of the community, regardless of party alliances and party affiliations, and he wants information. What he said was, ``Let's give out a couple thousand scholarships to a cross-section of Milwaukee children and let them choose their own school; let them go to public school, if they want, let them go to a private school, let them choose. We won't even make them apply; we'll just give them this opportunity.'' I think that's a really interesting experiment that would be well worth giving a lot of consideration to.

Chairman Riggs. Well, let me extend the offer to you to work closely with us as we draft this legislation, particularly, on the research and evaluation part of that legislation, because it's going to be critical that if we do, that if Congress passes legislation that somehow the President can see his way to sign, that we have a very strong research and evaluation component, so that we can determine what the long-term--or I think the term that you researcher's use is longitudinal--results are of that program and the expenditure of Federal taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Paul Peterson. I'd be happy, happy to do that for you.

Chairman Riggs. Let me very quickly, before my time expires, ask Mr. Steiger--Mr. Steiger, if we do pursue this kind of legislation, do you think we should require any school district participating in this to make a match, either with private funds and/or State and local taxpayer funds?

Mr. Steiger. That would be a very good idea. In fact, I think a number of the programs that we operate around the country would welcome the opportunity to join with us in a public-private partnership of some sort. So, I think there would be a lot of support for that.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, and I want to thank you for the wonderful work that you and CEO America are doing.

Mr. Steiger. Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. Ms. King, my time is expired, but you wanted to make a quick comment, I think, or an observation in response to my question to Dr. Peterson?

Ms. King. An observation that will help facilitate communication as we go along across America with this issue: When we talk about experiments, I know how it feels if my children are referred to as experiments, and so sometimes, linguistically, I'll say opportunities or pilots, and so that word ``experiments'' kind of makes you think about biology and cutting frogs, you know. So, I just want to throw that out.

Chairman Riggs. Well, thank you and I'm going to submit into the record, since Mr. Martinez submitted an article from today's paper on scholarships for District of Columbia families in the District of Columbia whose children attend District of Columbia public schools, I want to submit The Post editorial today, entitled, ``The Voucher Issue,'' in which they conclude by saying, ``The point--the hope--would be that such an experiment,'' referring again to tuition scholarships for low-income families, ``could be one small part of the effort being undertaken with vigor and optimism by the new school team to bring the District system to a higher, more even standard of achievement, one that reflects the quality of our best schools, which are the models.''


Chairman Riggs. Mr. Martinez?

Mr. Martinez. I'll take off from that point. Also in that article, which I do not believe and I'm glad you're inserting it in the record, is an endorsement, an outright endorsement of the program--this one sentence, it talks about a veto and it talks about its being unclear whether this proposal would pass the church-State court test. It said however, ``If it did, however, it might be worth at least,'' listen to these words, ``a cautious, provisional try.'' ``You balance the risk in a case such as this--the risk that vouchers could do harm against the risk of walking away from a plan that could do some good. We don't agree that this limited plan is powerful enough to have the effect on the school system--create the healthy competition--that its sponsors describe. But maybe,'' and here's another thing, understand the words, maybe, ``it would produce some of that''--maybe it would. I'm going to have to hurry, because I've got a vote in IR.

Mr. Peterson, wouldn't you say that in where this issue is concerned, that your data is controversial?

Mr. Paul Peterson. We have just reported from Cleveland a survey of parents which--

Mr. Martinez. No, I'm not asking you what you did in Cleveland; I'm asking if, to your knowledge, that your data is controversial, because it is.

Mr. Paul Peterson. Oh, controversial?

Mr. Martinez. Yes.

Mr. Paul Peterson. Oh, well, I would say we have yet to find anybody who has criticized our findings from Cleveland showing that parents are much more satisfied than if they send their children to a private school. So certainly that--

Mr. Martinez. I'm talking about the other statistics that you've come forward with. Let me ask you this: Are you a strong proponent of vouchers?

Mr. Paul Peterson. My position on vouchers is, as I said this morning, that this isn't something that a pilot program--I'm taking Ms. King's advice on this--a pilot program, a demonstration program, is really worth doing. I think, just as The Washington Post said this morning, this is something which might do good things for inner-city poor children and this is something that we should consider.

Mr. Martinez. I'm glad you're using the word ``might,'' because that's what the question is, is whether it will or not. Let me tell you this, regarding this pilot program: The voucher would be for $3,200; wouldn't even buy a half a day in kindergarten in county schools. Asked whether the county might make up the difference between the voucher and the $7,484 spent annually on each secondary student, she said, ``I don't see why or how,'' and the question is how.

You see that the voucher program is great to talk about, but in reality when you try to practice it, there are a lot of obstacles that we haven't even started to debate about. Who's going to make up the difference? If you take the $3,200 or initially provide it from the general revenues, how long is it going to be before somebody says, ``Hey, why should we be paying this additional revenue when the money is already there, per student, per child in that school district and it should come from that pot.''

Ms. King, you, in this article that you asked to be passed out, and we have passed it out to our members.

Ms. King. Yes, sir.

Mr. Martinez. You missed the underlying point of your own statement here. You know, with vouchers the question still remains as one that you asked that you're very concerned about, and I commend you for being concerned about it, because we all are. What happens to the families that cannot afford to choose a private school over a public school, because you realize that private schools are only about 9 percent of all the public schools in this country. That means that only 9 percent of the students would get that choice to go to that private school and 85 percent of those are parochial and we don't know whether it would stand the test and the challenge of the separation of church and state. Never mind that I don't necessarily agree with that where it comes to the education of kids, but that is the law.

So, I ask you, where do these 91 percent that are still left behind, that we've been so concerned about 9 percent or less than 9 percent in this case, because that's 9 percent of the students that go to private schools now of the total public enrollment--so only a portion, a small portion, of that 9 percent would actually get to make that choice, so you still have all these other people who, and I buy what you say that in many cases our kids are learning in garbage dumps, but in this plan we're not doing anything about that garbage dump. We're allowing the garbage dump to continue to exist and our kids to learn there--

Mr. McIntosh. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. Martinez. --violating their civil rights.

Mr. McIntosh. Mr. Chairman, would the gentleman yield? And I ask unanimous consent to be--

Mr. Martinez. No, you'll get the time from your chairman when it's your turn. However, I'd like Ms. King to answer the question.

Ms. King. Yes, sir, and I thank you. I hear a lot of agreement here today and I know that comes from communication. I say that what Ms. Gilder has done will continue to ripple across the country, and that if we allow that 9 percent to choose, then the other percentage will benefit from the change that will occur because of the competition. For example, my children right now are back in private school. They spend almost $2,000 a year, where the public school is spending thousands of dollars more. As a mother, I assure you that even if my children weren't a part of the 9 percent, I'd be saying push the 9 percent on, and then as a change and improvement occurred in the public school system, then my children would benefit also because everybody is benefiting from the opportunity to motivate and empower parents. So, when you empower parents, you get better schools, you'll get better public schools, charter schools and private schools. That's been proven and it will be proven more and more.

Mr. Martinez. If you're looking to empower parents, you're not looking to the Federal Government, because the Federal Government can't do it. Let me tell you, explain to you what I've tried to explain to my colleagues here in Congress.

Ms. King. Yes, sir.

Mr. Martinez. Ninety-four percent of the money that is provided for public school education is provided by local tax dollars and that responsibility lies with the locals. School boards are elected on a local basis. Now, how you empower parents is make them get in tune with what's happening in their school districts and make sure they know who's elected to that school board. That's where their civil rights--if there children are not being serviced well--that's where their civil rights are being violated by that school board who's not providing a better, safer condition or a better learning condition. But understand this, when I said 9 percent, 9 percent is what's enrolled in the private schools now, the percentage of new children that would have a choice to go to those private schools, and a lot of cases in that same article that I had submitted, it says there are not many spaces there.

Ms. King. Right.

Mr. Martinez. They really don't have the room for them. And so what I go back to is, if were spending all this effort and all this debate and all this aggravation trying to prove why vouchers are so important to people's choice, which I don't buy because we all have that choice right now, but the problem is if the choice falls with more affluent people, or not even affluent people necessarily, but sometimes people who are poor, who at least have the God-given intelligence to understand that their kids are only going to benefit if the get a proper education and so they, themselves, through all kinds of obstacles,--

Ms. King. Yes, sir.

Mr. Martinez. --get their children to the proper school where their child is going to get a good education, but it still leaves a lot of those to flounder out there that don't know what their rights are, that don't know how to go about getting their kids into one of these better schools.

Ms. King. As a mother, I would really say, go for the nine and let the 91 percent benefit from the subsequent change. I know we give a very good education to our kids for $2,000 a year as opposed to the $10,000 where they're not getting a good education. So, I'm saying, if you empower us as parents, you're going to see good change and it won't only be for a small percentage, like these little children--I wish you could see the picture--there benefiting from a school choice opportunity.

Mr. Martinez. That's been the recent cry, you know; we're going to cause change by doing something over here that's going to create competition and cause the schools to change. For crying out loud, don't we understand--

Mr. McIntosh. Regular order, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Martinez. --that we cannot change what a local school district does because we don't direct curriculum nor that school district because we don't provide the bulk of their money. Ninety-four percent of their money is State dollars that comes to them on a per diem basis for that child, and that local school board decides the conditions that exist in that school district, and you are not going to change that for the majority or the bulk of the students until you find somewhere to change those school boards.

Ms. King. If you'll empower us, we'll help you.

Chairman Riggs. Ms. King, Ms. King, if you'll withhold--we're in danger of turning this into a two-person debate and I've been very, very generous with the ranking member in terms of his use of time. Mr. Peterson?

Mr. Peterson of Pennsylvania. Thank you. Before I start my questions, I'm going to yield for a moment to Mr. McIntosh, who had a hot idea, or hot thought.

Mr. McIntosh. Thank you. Let me just respond to Mr. Martinez' line of question to Ms. King, and I'll give her a chance to finish her answer. This very article that he mentions about Virginia Gilder answers his question. It tells what happens to the students who stay in the public schools and, in this case, one-sixth of the students chose to go to a private school; five-sixths of them decided to stay in that public school, but they benefited. Let me read the relevant paragraph, ``It replaced the principal''--``it'' being the school board in that district--``It replaced the principal, brought in nine new teachers, added two assistant principals, and pledged an additional $125,000 for books, equipment, and teacher training.'' That benefited those 90 percent of the kids who stayed in the public system because competition worked. They knew they were hemorrhaging; they were losing their students; they had to do something to respond to that; they had to improve that public school and they did it. It proves that the theory works.

Ms. King, let me let you go ahead and answer the question yourself as well, because I think you were exactly right.

Ms. King. This is the first time in my life I've had the opportunity to feel like a rocket scientist and I've been working on something and now I see it works. We've been saying competition will work and we see that it does. That's what we're asking for, an opportunity to let it continue to work and it will. What will happen, parents, we're interested in our children. We've been apathetic because we thought the school systems were hopeless, but when we see that little glimmer and if it means letting a smaller percentage to go forth into what seems to be uncharted territory, they will definitely benefit, but the other children will benefit also and the parents will be less apathetic. It's very exciting for me as a parent to see this happening and we have schools coming up all around us in our community.

When I say "our community,'' I mean the community of America; I'm not going to isolate it. We're in the Nation's capital, so we've got to fix something quickly here, but it's already been demonstrated that it will change and it will work. This is really exciting. We can't fight over our children; they can't be political footballs. We've got to agree; it can't be a Democrat, Republican, or all this separation of church and State stuff.

If I can take one second in my answer, I pulled this out and it's one of my favorite passages, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh in vain. It is vain for us to rise up early, to sit up late and debate over this and fight over our children because God gives the beloved sleep.'' We've got to have some rest on this issue. "Lo, our children are our heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his reward.'' I'm saying, let our children be straight arrows. It's already being demonstrated that can happen and this is what we're fighting together for, not against each other.

Mr. McIntosh. Thank you, Ms. King, if only more people like you would come forward and participate. I appreciate what you said.

Mr. Chairman, as I yield back the time, could I ask unanimous consent that my colleague not be docked for that. I thought it was important that we have a full exchange in light of Mr. Martinez's comment?

Chairman Riggs. Is there objection? Hearing none. Mr. Peterson?

Mr. Peterson of Pennsylvania. Thank you very much. I could tell he was primed to participate and I'm glad to give him the opportunity.

You know, as I was listening to the ranking member, the question he asked Mr. Peterson, I think really says something. Aren't the facts very controversial? The facts--not theory, but the facts very controversial. Maybe the word should be shocking to the defenders of the current education establishment who are seemingly petrified of educational choice for parents, putting parents back in charge.

Now we think about that. Why are they frightened, why are they petrified, why are they defending the system? See, I think in education and all other forms of government services, we should be doing pilots all the time to figure out better ways to do things. That, to me, just makes sense, that if there's a better way we'd have a good system and even make it better--our system's in trouble, but the defenders of the system are scared of choice by the parents.

That the facts are controversial was stated two or three times; you didn't get a chance to answer it. I'd like to ask you, time is wasting I think, and we've talked about parental choice for a long time. Don't we need a lot of pilots across this country or a lot of opportunities--and I guess you've talked urban; I happen to come from rural. I know it's more of an urban problem, but rural schools are struggling, too. Where should we do these pilots? First question.

Mr. Paul Peterson. Well, of course, Members of Congress are better placed to answer that question than I am, Congressman Peterson. It's such a pleasure to say ``Congressman Peterson,'' I must say.


So, I really think that's something that you in your wisdom are going to have to sort through. It is clear to me that the central city public schools are in desperate need of something to revitalize them. My children attended the Washington, DC public schools. I know the public schools of Washington, DC I and my wife decided our children could no longer attend those schools; they would have to go to a private school, and so we paid a very substantial sum of money to see that should happen, as have had many Members of Congress and has the President of the United States. They made the same decision that we as a family decided we had to take after having our children in the public schools here.

It's always been a concern of mine ever since, that the poor children in the District of Columbia do not have that choice. They have to accept the system as it is. Unfortunately, the District of Columbia is not the only central city school system that has severe problems, terrible problems; incapacity to perform at a level that can meet the needs of the people living in the community.

So, that's why I have said we should, in the first instance, concentrate attention on the problems of central cities. This is not say that choice cannot have beneficial consequences in other places and that we should probably look at pilot opportunities elsewhere as well. I grew up in Montevideo, Minnesota, a nice rural town. People loved their public school there, but there were situations in that community where people suffered from the lack of choice. They wanted to have some choices that weren't available. I can think of places and opportunities in other parts of the country where it would be interesting to have some pilots and demonstrations as well.

Mr. Peterson of Pennsylvania. Of course, I personally like programs that have the least Federal control as possible, because our country's so different from Alaska to Florida to New Mexico to Maine; we're all so different. What would your thoughts be if we had a pot of Federal money that would allow every State to have an experiment, but they had to either match it with State money or local money, but in other words, were tracking, or private money; but, we would allow every State to have an experiment that we would pay a substantial portion of?

Mr. Paul Peterson. Well, before the welfare reform, this is what was done. There was--I think it was the 1980 welfare legislation, which was a bipartisan piece of legislation. Authority was given to the States to try welfare experiments and we learned a lot from those experiments. One of the rules was in those experiments, that if you're going to do the experiment, you've got to collect high-quality data on the nature of the experiment. I think we should take the principle from welfare reform legislation, 1988, apply it to education, and then spend some time learning from that and then see where we go at that point downstream. I think we'd learn a lot of things that we don't know now, just as we have been surprised at welfare reform.

The recent welfare reform legislation, I don't think anybody has quite anticipated what would happen in the first year, first, second year of the program. A lot of people make claims, but there were lots of surprises; I think the same thing would happen if we tried some pilot programs in education.

Mr. Peterson of Pennsylvania. Thank you very much.

Ms. Stallworth. I would like to respond to that question.

Mr. Peterson of Pennsylvania. Sure.

Ms. Stallworth. I guess I should appreciate everyone's concern about the word ``experiment'' being used; however, let's call it what it is, it's experimentation. Let's not color the issue, just as we wanted to call vouchers ``scholarships.'' It's all a change of words to make it more palatable and it's still not anymore palatable to me.

I think that Dr. Peterson mentioned something early on, that Congress should take in consideration. He said one of his first points was that you should find local governments who are interested in these programs. That's what he said, that was his first point--who would like to experiment with these programs? I think that being a resident of DC and a parent of children who are still attending these schools, that our local government and our citizens should be allowed the opportunity to let you know what we want, not have it imposed on us. I've listened to the former superintendent of Milwaukee state that one of the things they feel is that they need more money in the voucher programs to help support the programs. They currently are funded at the level of $4,400 per student.

So, I think that we need to, first of all, call it what it is: an experiment. Second of all, take it where people want it; don't try to impose it on someone else. I think in saying that you're willing to let the 9 percent go on and, hopefully, something good will happen for the 91 percent, that's frightening to me. I think that we should be looking at things that help 100 percent of our children.

I think things can be done more rapidly, in the situation that was quoted from the newspaper, when you're looking at one school and a school district can put funds into one school, but, however, we're talking about entire school districts. If they're going to improve by competition, with dwindling dollars being placed into those schools--I think that the more relevant article in The Washington Post today for the students in our city, was the one on the front page, where the 60 schools that Senator Lieberman made reference to last Thursday, as being within that range of the $3,200, 54 of them are religious. Six were private, and of those six, some of their tuitions have gone up, and as the quote was made by Representative or Senator Coats, the two in Virginia have gone up quite a bit. So, I think that's more relevant to our children, when you're talking about 2,000 students because we're talking about experimentation. The only consequence of a program like this will be the creation of unproven experimental private schools.

Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. Well, we're going to need to go vote, but, Ms. Stallworth, I have to tell you that, as to the very last comment you made, ``unproven experimental schools,'' I do not consider Gonzaga High School, I do not consider Saint Johns, I do not consider Carroll High School as unproven.

Ms. Stallworth. Congressman, when the voucher is in the range of $10,000 to $12,000, then we can talk about Gonzaga, and we can talk about Sidwell Friends, but as long as it's $3,200, you're not even in their range.

Chairman Riggs. Well, I disagree with you, and we will look into this--

Ms. Stallworth. Absolutely, I know--

Chairman Riggs. Just a minute, Ms. Stallworth. I'm willing to look into this and I'm willing to make you sort of a friendly wager that scholarship would go a long way towards--

Ms. Stallworth. If, if--

Chairman Riggs. Ms. Stallworth, just a moment.

Ms. Stallworth. Yes.

Chairman Riggs. Just a moment. That it would go a long way towards paying the tuition at those institutions. I happen to be familiar with them and know for a fact that the DC scholarship would go a long ways toward defraying the institution at those schools. I also asked the staff to look into what the District of Columbia is paying per pupil and, according to the Congressional Research Service, the figure for the latest year, the 1993-1994 school year, is $10,180 per pupil, and CRS suggested that was, in fact, a conservative cost because of the fact that the DC public schools are overcounting the number of students. Apparently, there's no way in the District of Columbia public schools for them to even have an accurate student count.

Ms. Stallworth. Well, I've heard so many figures on DC public schools in the last two weeks; I've heard $9,000 from Mr. Gingrich; I read the $10,000 statement in Ms. King's letter to the teachers of the District of Columbia public schools; and I also saw Senator Lieberman last Thursday in his presentation. I think people need to understand also as far as DC and the cost of our schools, we're one of the rare school districts that offer full day pre-K and kindergarten classes, that are equipped with both teachers and teachers aides.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. We will reconvene immediately after this vote. It's my hope that the witnesses can stay until approximately 1:00 p.m. because Mr. Roemer, Mr. Scott, Mr. Souder, I think, are still awaiting the opportunity to pose questions or make comments. So, we will reconvene in about ten minutes after this vote on the House floor.


Chairman Riggs. The subcommittee will reconvene.

Mr. Roemer? You're recognized, sir.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm interested, Mr. Peterson, in your study. The more I read about it, the more interested I am in it. First of all, in picking Cleveland, it's interesting to note that in Cleveland there has been a huge problem with corporate tax breaks that have promoted growth but actually starved the public schools of cash. We're talking about vouchers now for Cleveland. Have you looked at and evaluated the impact of such a drastic reduction in school funding on the public schools in Cleveland?

Mr. Paul Peterson. The public schools in Cleveland, I think, receive per pupil about three times the scholarships that are, the amount that are given in the scholarships to the students in the scholarship programs. In the private schools--they also get transportation so there may be some additional things--but, roughly speaking, the cost per pupil is about half, maybe 60 percent of what the public school costs are in Cleveland. Apparently, the private schools are able to satisfy parents with a lot less money. You're absolutely correct in that regard.

Mr. Roemer. Did you study the impact of corporate tax breaks and tax abatement on the continuing erosion of support for the public schools?

Mr. Paul Peterson. The whole question of how much effect does money have on the quality of a school is one of the issues that I'm going to be discussing tomorrow with my students in class.

Mr. Roemer. We'd welcome that discussion today.

Mr. Paul Peterson. The studies out there pretty much show that, if there's any effect at all, of spending more money on how much children learn, it's very hard to detect, it's a very small amount.

Mr. Roemer. Mr. Peterson, let me stop you there and just say that in the public school system, if you continually take money away from the public school system, whether that be vouchers, whether that be tax abatements to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, we're not just talking about the difference between spending per pupil $3,000 or $4,000 or $5,000 and $9,000 or $10,000 or $11,000 between some of the disparities between inner-cities and suburban schools. I'm asking you a specific question about Cleveland and tax abatement and how that has sucked tens of millions of dollars out of the public school system and I guess you'll discuss that tomorrow in class and I won't get the answer to that.

Mr. Paul Peterson. Let me just mention, in response to that question, that whenever a child accepts a scholarship and leaves the public school system to go to the private school, that the amount of money remaining in the public schools increases on a per-pupil basis, because, you see, only $2,000 leaves and the other $5,000 is left behind for the rest of the students. So actually the amount of money available to the public school systems increases as a result.

Mr. Roemer. Well, again, you're not answering my question, you know, the tax abatement. I guess you didn't look at that, as I tried three times to get you to answer that question. You talked about how your study has found significant gains in percentage point increases in math and some reading tests. The New York Times states that language scores have declined in your test and there was a huge decline among first graders by 19 points. Is there a specific reason why you've had problems with the first graders and with language skills?

Mr. Paul Peterson. Well, these are not my schools. That question is best asked of the administrators of the two schools in question. I think they may have some ideas. What we found, we've gains in all subject areas, in all grades, except for first grade, where there was this one drop in language skills. There were gains in reading and math in first grade, but not in language skills in first grade, but in all other grades there are gains in all areas.

Mr. Roemer. Let me just correct the record. Here it states in The New York Times that language scores declined 5 percentage points overall and first grade 19 points among those specific--

Mr. Peterson. Yes, and the reason for that overall figure is that when you average in the first graders with the second and third graders, although there scores were positive, you bring in that 19 negative, it averages out to a minus 5, so both, all these statements are true. Overall, it was a down by five, but in all grades it's up except for first grade.

Mr. Roemer. You can't tell us why?

Mr. Peterson. Well, we didn't attempt to do a grade-by-grade analysis of what was happening. We looked at the general pattern. I think within the schools the administrators there have some thoughts on the subject.

Mr. Roemer. Okay, we'll try to follow up with that.

Ms. Stallworth, I was interested in your exchange talking about the discrepancy when you have a $3,200 scholarship, that it certainly wouldn't get you into Sidwell Friends at $10,000 per year in tuition. Even in The Washington Post, in this morning's article, "Vouchers May Open Few Doors," I agree with your assessment. At the end of the article, it says even when there's a $200 difference, when the school cost $3,400 and the scholarship is for $3,200, the principal here in this article states, that even with that $200 discrepancy, and we're not talking about the discrepancy between $3,200 and $10,000, we're talking about a $3,200 scholarship and a $3,400 cost to attend the school, she says, the principal says, that she has a bare-bones budget; her teachers are getting paid $17,000 a year. She could not make up the difference in this kind of budget and she could not accept anyone with $200 less unless a benefactor could make up that difference. So, this $3,200 scholarship doesn't even get you into the $3,400 school.

My concern, Ms. Stallworth, is I'm looking for answers to the public school system: charter schools, alternative schools, public choice, and not taking money away from the public school system, where we get a giant sucking sound out of the public schools and we give up on them. We start to say here's a huge Titanic of an oceanliner going down and we're just going to send a little life raft for a couple people to save them, and we're going to give up on public education in this system.

My philosophy, and I think as your philosophy stated here very articulately, Ms. Stallworth, is we have to save every single school and every single child. We don't come up with these Houdini acts that pretend to say a $3,200 scholarship is going to save all these children. What about the tens of thousands of children left in the DC school system? I don't see how a voucher system helps them, the remaining students. I think charter schools would help them. I think alternative schools would help them. I think magnet schools would help them. I think insisting on resurrecting the public school system that has done so many great things in this country for diversification and integration and public values and public discourse and civic responsibility, that would really help us.

Would you care to comment?

Ms. Stallworth. I agree with you. I think that the effort that has gone into this particular issue could have been better spent by identifying successful programs and seeing if they can be replicated in public schools, thereby helping all children, not just a few. We have very successful schools within the DC public school system. As I said, my middle child attends Jefferson Junior High School. As a result of the principal's efforts there, they have received offers of public-private partnerships to help her continue her wonderful work.

Mr. Roemer. Now that's a public school, Ms. Stallworth.

Ms. Stallworth. That's a public junior high school.

Mr. Roemer. That's an alternative. I've attended that school. Is Ms. Vera White the principal at that school?

Ms. Stallworth. Yes.

Mr. Roemer. She personally drives students home from school at night and they have a space center there. That is a wonderful public school.

Ms. Stallworth. They try to supply tutors; they do, not just try. They supply tutors for any child that needs the assistance. DC public schools has empowered parents, in particular, since the new structure has been put into place, so that we're sitting at the table; we're going over what the education plans will be; we're helping them decide the type of education we think our children need and deserve in the future; we're helping in that effort.

As a result, when they came out with their original plans, parents and community representatives spent a sweltering night at Hines Junior High School, and 30 of the suggestions that came from those parents and community representatives were added into their interim plan. We're now going to be working with the new academic chairperson. Those are the types of things that we need to foster and continue. Where the buildings need to be repaired, then help us repair those buildings, because that's were the majority of our children are going to be. I don't want to sacrifice any child, and I think that all children deserve quality.

As we go along, I can add to your question about Cleveland. I used to live in Cleveland and I still get The Plain Daily every Sunday and I've kept up with some of their education issues. One of the impacts that came about because of budget cuts that were necessary for the school system to make was a decrease in kindergarten classes. As a results, if you look at statistics for those vouchers schools, 42 percent of those students were kindergartners. Twenty-five percent of those students were students who were currently attending private schools. Thirty-three percent were students who were from Cleveland public school system itself.

Mr. Roemer. I thank Ms. Stallworth and I thank the chairman for the time.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Roemer. Mr. Souder?

Mr. Souder. I wanted to follow up a little bit from Dr. Peterson's comment on that actually the public schools save money. I wanted to first ask Mr. Steiger, you have similar programs in CEO America and to varying degrees in 32 cities. In any of those cities do the private schools get more money than the public schools?

Mr. Steiger. Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Souder. In any of those cities have public school expenditures gone down?

Mr. Steiger. I haven't seen any.

Mr. Souder. Do you know in any of these cities where the private school cost per pupil exceeds that of the public school cost per pupil?

Mr. Steiger. There are none.

Mr. Souder. So, in 32 of the major cities in the country the private school spending, it's not a matter of eliminating public schools, and I say that as a parent who, I went to public schools all the way through high school; my wife went to public schools all the way through high school; my daughter graduated from public school and went all the way through high school; my son's a senior in a public school, and my other son's a fourth grader in public school. I'm not anti-public school, but the bulk of Federal expenditures have been, always will be, in public schools.

In these 32, you're also saying that the per-pupil expenditure is less. So why wouldn't Dr. Peterson's point be true, that if, in fact, I think if I understood your one addendum to be correct, that your vouchers were around, paid up to 90 percent, I guess that was Cleveland, was up to 90 percent or $2,200, where we're hearing higher figures in public schools? Why wouldn't the public schools actually gain when somebody goes into the private school if they're spending two to three times as much money? Do you know of any case where the public school wouldn't actually have more cash? Either of you?

Mr. Peterson. Well, certainly in Cleveland and Milwaukee, the two places in the country where we now have this kind of a choice program in place, the way the legislation has been written by the State legislature, the State aid goes from the public school to the private school, but all the local money that's raised remains in the public schools. So the amount spent per pupil increases with every single child who participates in the choice program. So if you stay in public school, you're going to have more money available to be spent on your education, if there are more children participating in the choice program.

Ms. Stallworth. I'd like to add to that. One of the things that we discovered in discussions on DC, and it came up when the Gejdenson legislation was put together for DC, and that was attempting to change the DC structure to per capita, which is what's done all over this country. Which means that the amount of money a school system receives is calculated based on the number of students attending. So if they lose students, they don't get a portion of what used to be there. It's based on the number of students.

Mr. Souder. Dr. Peterson, could you address that question, because even if it's based per capita, unless they're making a profit per student, most school systems say that in fact they are spending often more and they're barely making it? In other words their variable income isn't really--

Mr. Paul Peterson. Well, most state aid formulas are based on a per-pupil basis rather than on a per capita basis because it's usually assumed that costs vary with the number of pupils in a school. So, if one district does 100 students and another district has 1,000 students, the one with 1,000 students needs ten times as much money. That's basically the way the formula works. So, if you went to a per capita, it would even be more so. The more kids that leave the system to go to a private school, the more money is left for those in the public schools. So if Ms. Stallworth's proposal were put into effect, there would be even less of an impact on the public schools, or the impact of the public schools would be still more positive.

Mr. Souder. I wanted to ask Mr. Steiger also--you said that in your addendum that the priority, that now the common practice in these programs has been to go to lottery as opposed to the initial way that you, the programs were first come, first served, which is one of the points that Dr. Peterson has in his testimony. About how many are left in the first-come, first-served system as opposed to a lottery system?

Mr. Steiger. How many students are left?

Mr. Souder. No, how many of the cities of the 32?

Mr. Steiger. Of the 33 cities that are operating right now, 30 of them operate on the first-come, first-serve basis. We anticipate another 15 to 20 programs that will be launched in the coming year or two. I would suspect that the majority of those would go to a lottery because they think it's a fair approach. It gives everybody a shot at it, as opposed to who can get their application in the quickest.

Mr. Souder. Do you foresee any of the previous 30 going to a lottery?

Mr. Steiger. In fact, in Indianapolis, the first program that started was on a first-come, first-served basis, and they recently, in the last several months, went to a lottery program.

Mr. Souder. It will certainly help in the research in the field and studying the more we go to a lottery. Dr. Peterson, I wanted to--there we're a couple of things that really struck me in your testimony because I'd read an article that suggested in Milwaukee that the school choice program wasn't having as much of an impact, and you state in your testimony that they had measured the sample against all Milwaukee public school students, as opposed to those who had applied. And, therefore, the very thing that we're often accused of by the other side, that is, skewing the results against those who are poor, they in fact did the reverse. That they took a--that in fact the choice schools, according to what you're saying here, had a lower income base than those that remained in the public schools.

Mr. Peterson. Yes, it was not that they compared them to all the students in the public schools, only those whose parents filled out the questionnaire. Well, you know who fills out questionnaires? It's a more advantaged population who fills out questionnaires and sends them in, and only 10 percent--they had a 10 percent response rate, and so when they ended up making the comparison, they compared kids whose initial test scores, before the experiment were 10 percentile points higher; their income of the family was twice as high; the racial composition was entirely different. They were advantaged in almost every respect and that was the comparison group that was used for the first study.

Nonetheless, the kids in the choice program did just as well as that comparison group. But when we did the fair comparison, when we compared apples to apples, we found that not only did they do just as well, but they gained as many as 11 points, which is a half of a standard deviation. That's a huge gain on the math test.

Mr. Souder. That's pretty exciting. So you're saying that kids who went to the choice school actually performed at the same rate as higher-income and more advantaged students in the public system?

Mr. Peterson. That's right.

Mr. Souder. That doesn't, you know, if you're going to have an experiment that sounds like a pretty good experiment to have, quite frankly. That one of the things, because we've heard a lot of illusions today about experiments, but in fact, what we have is a failing system that we're trying to figure out how to fix it, and since we don't know for sure what the fixes are, wouldn't you like to have experiments that, at worst, find that the disadvantaged students perform as well as the advantaged students?

Mr. Peterson. Well, you know, the neat thing about this pilot program idea is that it's a very simple thing to put into place. You just give families a choice. They can then do whatever they want. Just give them a choice. You don't have to design a school building. You know, most educational innovations require an awful lot of designing and planning and a lot of activity by a bunch of experts. This is just giving families a choice. It's the easiest kind of experiment, the easiest kind of pilot program to put into place.

Mr. Steiger. You know, we experiment all the time with patients that are dying of cancer and give them drugs, and I can tell you, I've got 14,000 families who are thrilled to death to be experimental projects because their lives are being saved now that they're getting out of a trapped school system where they don't have a future and they don't really have a hope.

Mr. Souder. I want to reiterate that it's not that we're not doing things in the public schools, because we are trying about everything under the sun in the public schools. We can't forget that's where 90 percent of the students are, but we're trying to provide some others an option, hopefully, as Ms. King has pointed out, to try to change the public schools.

I wanted to ask you, Ms. King--I really appreciated your testimony and your willingness to speak out--why, given the fact that most African-Americans favor choice, most Hispanic-Americans favor choice, don't you think more of the political leaders in those communities are speaking out for that, for the very communities?

Ms. King. I can't understand why not and the figures and statistics really do demonstrate that African-Americans and other "minorities" do favor choice. It's a political matter, I guess, for some of our "leaders,'' and I think that we're going to have to work on that point. I did also want to point out that vouchers are not new, and if you consider the voucher systems in Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden, they've been very successful there.

The programs here are demonstrating a level and a measure of success. Our African-American children are benefiting from these programs. So, we need to go ahead and do what's right for our children. We need to save all of our children, not a small percentage; and it has been demonstrated; those figures cannot be moved away or discredited. It has been demonstrated that when you implement a choice program, including vouchers, that you empower parents, the system improves, the schools begin to compete, and that hope arises. That's what I'm emphasizing and that's what I'm speaking for.

Mr. Souder. Isn't one of the points if you empower parents, it isn't the 9 percent that leave; it's that the other 91 percent has the potential of leaving? And unless the school starts to listen--often, it's the people with the least power that are ignored by teachers and the principals, because they don't have the clout, but give them the power to leave, all of a sudden people who heretofore have been ignored in our society have to be listened to.

Ms. King. This is true. In the letter that was made reference to, I did write the school teachers here in your system, and 73 out of 89 of them, 86 percent said if parents had the ability to send their children to the school of their choice and direct commensurate education spending to that school, then it would empower the systems to do better. Now, this is what the teachers themselves have said. So, we have to listen to the teachers; we have to listen to the parents. We've already heard the children. That's why they're carrying weapons to school. That's why they're frightened. That's why they're afraid, and that's why they're not performing. So, the teachers, the students, and the parents can't be wrong and it's time to listen.

Mr. Souder. Thank you, I yield.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Souder. Mr. Scott?

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I guess I'm one of those ``leaders.'' Let me make a couple of comments and questions.

The comment was made that money doesn't make a difference. If you want to have a debate, we're having a little debate on vouchers; you want a real debate, you talk about equalizing the funding from the high-income counties to the low income counties. High-income counties where they don't have the challenge of at-risk students and all that, that's when you have a real debate, trying to equalize that. I'll agree that it's not 100 percent correlation, but to suggest that money doesn't count, I think isn't well taken.

The second is that to suggest that a school that has a new principal, new resources, and a renewed vigor from the community was because of vouchers, I think is also a stretch. We've got several schools in my area, one of which, Magruder Primary School, went from 1 percent of students in grade level to almost 80 percent in grade level. They got the new principal; they got injected all kinds of resources, and they're able to get the scores up because they focused attention. Diverting money from the schools will not help; removing the pressure from the schools to help will not help.

And those of us who are not defending the present system, what we're doing is trying to defend from a situation that will divert funds from the public school system. We've seen that more money going to the vouchers does not divert from public schools, if you've got a couple of extra million dollars to go to education, and the question is whether to put it to vouchers or whether to improve the schools; that's where the question is.

What we don't count in all these calculations is the first wave of money goes to help those who would already have gone to public schools. And so, in Milwaukee, that's about $25,000 per classroom just to cover those already in public; that would not benefit those in public school at all to divert all of that money if you went to a complete everybody-has-a-choice situation. Private schools can select their students and if they have a lower cost, it's not necessarily because they're doing a better job, but because they can select the students.

First question I have is on the question of church schools. Do the panelists support or oppose vouchers for church-related private schools?

Mr. Paul Peterson. If I might comment on that question, this is a issue that is in the courts and is being debated. The Supreme Court handed down a decision this past summer in which it suggested that, as long as no particular religion is favored and as long as religion is not favored over non-religion or non-belief, then there is no establishment of the religion.

Mr. Scott. Let me rephrase it a little bit. If David Korach was running an elementary school, would you want him to be able to be funded?

Mr. Peterson. I think that private schools should be subject to supervision and licensing and oversight by the government, if you're going to have government money, just as we have inspection of other parts of our private sector. Regulation of almost every segment of our life takes place whether it's provided by private providers or by public agencies. So, I think that you need to have some care taken to make sure that a--

Mr. Scott. Well, I only have five minutes, I'm trying to get a clear answer to the question whether you're for or opposed to church schools getting funded? Maybe, I can ask the other panelists.

Mr. Roemer. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. Scott. I'll yield for a second.

Mr. Roemer. So, Mr. Peterson, let me see if I understand your comments. You would say that a Catholic school then, that receives vouchers, should be subject to government regulation?

Mr. Peterson. Oh, they are today.

Mr. Roemer. And you want--

Mr. Peterson. They have to abide by all kinds of government regulations in order to exist today. If they violate the safety codes, fire codes, they would have to go out of business, so this is standard practice.

Mr. Scott. Do the others support or oppose funding of religious schools?

Ms. Stallworth. My support goes to public dollars remaining in the public school system.

Mr. Scott. Okay.

Mr. Steiger. I would point to the college system where we have any number of religious schools who receive public funds. So, yes, I would support that.

Mr. Scott. Okay, that's fine.

Ms. King. I would say that all families' dollars would be used to support the education of their families and that their families would be empowered to choose what those schools are, and so I just maintain that. So, for me it's not public, private, nor charter. It's not an issue of religious choice. You know, we all have religious freedom, and so I believe certainly that should be maintained. There are government regulations within schools, all schools.

Mr. Scott. Okay. All right, I just wanted an answer whether we're trying to fund church schools or not.

Ms. King, you indicated something about private schools and $2,000. What was that figure, the $2,000 figure?

Ms. King. Oh, I'm talking about the school that my children attend right now. They have attended public and private schools; right now they're in private school. It was a choice of our church; it's a church school; it's a Christian school. So, it's subsidized by the congregation and private investors so that all children within the community can attend the school.

Mr. Scott. If they have $2,000?

Ms. King. It has one of the best curriculum's, a better curriculum, one of the top curriculum's, top books. It has music, sports. It has everything.

Mr. Scott. My question was what is the $2,000?

Ms. King. Tuition per year.

Mr. Scott. Tuition that's after all of the subsidies?

Ms. King. Along with the subsidies--so any parent can send their child to school for $2,000 a year.

Mr. Scott. Okay, now what is the cost of educating a child at that school?

Ms. King. The cost to the parent is $2,000.

Mr. Scott. Okay, and if you don't have a church bankrolling and subsidizing the school, the tuition would obviously be more than $2,000.

Ms. King. It would, but we have our guarantee that any child up to the maximum capacity of the school can come. That's part of our effort and our agenda, and that's part of the agenda of many Americans who will support this type of program. They're stepping forth now by the hundreds and beginning to be the thousands. And so now, joined by the teachers, the students, the parents, and the people of goodwill, we're showing America that it can work. So, it doesn't even matter how much you resist it; it works and it's been demonstrated.

Mr. Scott. Okay, let me ask you a question. When you have this popular political polls that say that people support the choice, do you tell them that the chances of them getting a voucher are 2,000 out of 78,000?

Ms. King. They can know that, and if they see hope for that smaller percentage and they see the improvements in their schools as a result. As a matter of fact, when you said that it's a far stretch to correlate the improvement of the school with the voucher movement, then it can be correlated. Before the voucher movement, we had a lot of apathy. There's less apathy and more success now. We know that with this change we're making better education and that's the effort. Along with all the changes that you want to see instituted, they are happening as a result of the empowerment of parents, the interest of parents, and so we're going to improve the schools; we're going to improve the public schools.

Mr. Scott. My question was, do people know that the chances of them being relegated to the public schools under the voucher program are 76 out of 78?

Ms. King. Some people know that and many people are like me. As I said, if my children couldn't benefit and if they had to stay--

Mr. Scott. You have relied on a political poll who did the question--

Ms. King. On several.

Mr. Scott. Does the question alert the respondent that the chances of them getting--it's not a question of whether you would like a voucher or not like a voucher--the question really ought to be, would you support the voucher program if you knew that the chances of you getting a voucher were 2 out of 78?

Ms. King. Specifically, those specific figures, no, but I tell people all over the country that, even if your children are not among the first, let's do it; let's save the ones that we can save and we make the schools better at the same time, and most parents say, save the children. Most parents say that.

Mr. Scott. With the present state of the DC public schools, would an intelligent, caring parent, with the choice, keep their students in public schools?

Ms. King. I don't want to the intelligence or the caring of the parents of DC, but I know that many parents in DC want a change. I think the parents in DC just want excellent education. They're not fighting over public or private; they just want excellent good education and that's what we're doing.

Mr. Scott. What this offers is an escape for a privileged few to get out with 95 percent left behind and nothing for the 95 percent.

Ms. King. So would you say, if you had a boat, and the boat was going down, and you could only save four children and their were ten in it, so would you say let all ten die and don't save four?

Mr. Scott. My choice would be to try to do something about the public schools and not divert public attention from the fact that the schools need assistance. We need to do something. We know what to do, if we will get the political backbone to do it, and we ought to stop diverting funds and resources and attention and political pressure from the public schools by offering people what is clearly an illusory offer of a few handful of people being able to escape the system and leaving the 95 percent left behind in a situation.

Ms. King. My family didn't think so, and I say this for Martin Luther King, Jr.; A.D. King, my daddy; Daddy King. We've always made those choices, and our children, and my children have always been educated in public and private, and we believe, I still believe, that all Americans should have that same privilege and opportunity. Now those Americans who don't want that opportunity don't have to take it.

Mr. Scott. You're not offering a choice to all students; you're offering a lottery system where 2 out of 78 might win the lottery and escape the system if they can land in these handful of schools that still have vacancies open.

Ms. King. On the other side of that, and Mr. John Gardner, a member of the Milwaukee public schools board of directors, has said what I'm saying now: that ``This voucher program, scholarship program, puts effective pressure on the Milwaukee public schools to expand, accelerate, and improve reforms long deliberated and too long postponed.'' He admitted that, even though he says he's against it. We're saying that this opportunity, this project, this program, and it's just part of a comprehensive educational reform, will make the schools better for all children. We're not just talking about a small percentage. We're going to make the schools better for all children.

Mr. Scott. Well, the only way that you can have a real opportunity for students is if you open up the voucher for every student that wants one and you've essentially eliminated the American experiment for public education because everybody in DC will be running for the vouchers, trying to get into a private school, and trying to pay the difference between the $3,200 and the $10,000 or the $3,200 and the $5,000, or trying to find some foundation or church to subsidize their education and the entire American experiment of public education will be down the river--

Ms. King. If you offer that bill for us--

Mr. Scott. --and offer people this public opinion poll where the real truth is not stated that your chance of getting one of these vouchers is 2 out of 78, leading them to believe that if they vote for this thing, they'll get a voucher. I don't think it's fair.

Mr. Souder. I don't think it's fair to impugn the intelligence of the people who took the poll.

Chairman Riggs. Regular order. Regular order.

Mr. Scott. Well, if I could finish--

Chairman Riggs. Mr. Scott, if you would conclude--

Mr. Scott. To suggest that everybody is going to get one of these and to take a poll suggesting that somebody who answers yes might actually get one and I just don't think it's fair.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your tolerance, and Mr. Souder, I appreciate your letting me go as long as I did.

Ms. King. If we could have a bill, Mr. Chairman, that would empower all Americans to choose, that would be marvelous.

Chairman Riggs. Let me conclude the hearing by making a couple of final closing comments and hopefully my colleagues can stay for just a moment, though I recognize a vote has just started on the House floor.

I'm struck by the fact that we've heard this morning from some of my Democratic colleagues and Ms. Stallworth an argument that seems to run along these lines: that the real problem with vouchers or tuition grants or tuition scholarships--you choose the term--is that we don't have enough of them, or they're not funded in a large amount. I find that a very intriguing argument. I want to point out, as I think Ms. King was attempting to stress, is that a lot of us who believe in giving parents the full range of choice among all competing institutions believe that would cause that sense of competition instilled or injected in the public school system, would cause the public schools to have to improve. It would bring about bootstrap improvement, if you will.

Now, we've thrown a lot of polling data around today, but I just looked at some additional figures from a July NBC Wall Street Journal poll that showed that 59 percent of parents of public school children would consider sending their children to private or religious schools. Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier, 86 percent, according to another poll, the poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 86 percent of African-Americans in the 26-to-35-year-old age group most likely to have kids in school, favor private school vouchers. In addition, 63 percent of those with incomes of less than $15,000 a year support school choice. So it almost becomes one of those issues, when the people lead perhaps, and one would hope the leaders will follow; eventually we'll get the message. As Fannie Lewis--

Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman?

Chairman Riggs. Just a moment. As Fannie Lewis said up in Cleveland, and I want to find her comments here, I think they're rather revealing. ``We can't take this program away because of politics or money because it's what the people want.''

I recognize Mr. Payne just came in and I want to give him an opportunity to make his comments, but I also want to add one other thing, as a follow-up to my exchange with Ms. Stallworth.

During the last break, the staff, our very able staff, got on the phone and made phone calls to those three high schools: Gonzaga High School, Saint John's High School, and Carroll High School. They found out the following: The tuition at Gonzaga High School, very fabled Catholic High School, very close here to Capitol Hill, is currently $7,700 a year; $4,500 dollars is covered by the school, by the diocese, and $3,200, just coincidentally, the amount proposed for DC scholarships, is evenly split between the parent and the private scholarship fund that Mr. Steiger runs. At Saint John's High School the tuition is $6,500--excuse me--$6,650 a year, with $2,000 financial aid and the average of that is $1,000. So that, again, that difference would be a little bit more than the proposed DC scholarships.

And at Carroll High School the tuition is $4,200 a year, with $850 in financial aid offered to families. So, again, the net amount after subtracting the financial aid offered through the school or through the Catholic Diocese of the District of Columbia is roughly equivalent to the proposed amount for DC scholarships.

Ms. Stallworth. And therefore--

Chairman Riggs. The last thing I want to say very quickly, is quoting from Morton Kondracke's column last week, ``There is mounting evidence that Catholic schools provide a far better education for impoverished inner-city children than public schools do; that the public, and especially African-Americans, who want private school choice, and that former opponents of choice are changing their mind.'' Then he went on to discuss the polling data that I've mentioned today.

So, to my colleagues and our witnesses, I strongly believe that the time has come to give choice a chance.

With that, Mr. Payne, you're recognized.

Mr. Payne. Just for a minute, I guess our time is out. First of all, let me commend you, Ms. Stallworth, for your testimony. I was here when you gave it and I think it made probably more sense than all the rest of the testimony that I've heard here. I think that there's no question parochial schools can put people out. When you say that there are large numbers of African-Americans who want vouchers, it's growing, that's because the school system is so bad. That doesn't mean that you need to abandon the system. I would just like to, also I've noticed--let me just ask Ms. King, I see your commercials. The organization you are with is putting those commercials on, paying for them, or how does that--is it public service or what is it?

Ms. King. I'll tell you, everything that I do is by faith. It comes in from grassroots and from people of goodwill. There's no one particular organization who's paying for anything. So everything is a faith project. So, King for America, we reach out on a grassroots level and we receive help from people of good heart and goodwill.

Mr. Payne. Let me just say, as we conclude, that I think--

Mr. Scott. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. Payne. Yes, go right ahead.

Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, on a point of personal privilege, Mr. Chairman, because I think you mischaracterized our situation when you say there's not enough money and not enough vouchers. What we are meaning in that is to have an effective voucher program would cost so much money that it would be unaffordable, unless you just totally dismantle the public school system. Obviously, it's better if you're going to put that kind of money into a system, that it go to the public schools and improve it. Furthermore, if we have situations where there's a limit to the number of foundations and churches that will bankroll public schools, that will say all you need is $3,200, when the Catholic church and everybody else is putting in $3,000 and $4,000 a student, there is a limit to the number of opportunities along those lines. So unless we're going to go and let the private sector educate the children, we're back to focusing on the public system and investing in the public education.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Payne. Let me take back the balance of my time. There's no question the voucher system will destroy the public school system as we know it. I've never heard of any system in this country that was bad that our country said abandon it. If you take a three-lane highway going in both directions, six lanes, if it's in disrepair, we don't say just let it stay in disrepair because there's some single lane that you can get there by detouring and going around. I have never heard us in this country say, let's throw in the towel because something's not working. It's un-American. It simply will take money from the public school system. It will be a system to have segregated schools.

It will be a system to allow people to exclude--private schools can put people out. That's why so many graduate. They get rid of them before the graduation rate. You ought to look at the rate of people that come into the private school and see what the graduation is. They put them out before graduation. So the rate is high.

There is no question about it; if we did in the public schools what we're doing in these voucher private schools--they have in my charter school, in my city, 16, 18 kids in a class. Well, that's great. Certainly they're going to do twice as well, because the average class size in my city is 35. This rocket scientist that I've heard about earlier, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know if you put the class number in half--and I taught for 10 years--that you're going to certainly have a little better performance from those 18, rather than the 35 you're dealing with.

I guess our time is up, but I appreciate, Ms. Stallworth, for you to stay the course. I think right will win out over wrong. Dr. King said that. That was one of the things.

Ms. Stallworth. I did want to make a final comment in support of myself. I'm not here saying that there needs to be more people included, students included, in the program or to talk about the amount. I just don't think it's a program that you need to be dealing with. I think that the duty of this government is to improve public schools. We've been through a time when these systems were private, and we know about the exclusiveness of those types of programs. We don't need to go backward. To move forward, we have to--it's our duty to--make sure that these schools are there for our public school students.

And in those statistics, the polls stated from The Wall Street Journal, it's been brought to my attention that the majority of the blacks in that poll oppose vouchers.

Mr. Payne. Right. And you know, like I said, it's just--when things get so bad, it's not surprising to me that a majority of the black people or larger numbers say that we want this other kind of school system. If you did the same thing when I went to public schools, you wouldn't find that.

It's because we've allowed them to get in disrepair. My whole argument is that you don't salvage something that's not working; you fix it. I thought that was the American way. We've got a B-2 bomber that doesn't fly half the time. They didn't abandon it; they just keep putting more money in and ordering more of them. I've never heard of Americans quitting on a system because it's not working. I thought we made it correct,

And I wish I had time to ask the Harvard gentleman some questions on his statistics because I didn't see that in his bio, that he was a person that deals with statistics. The school I went to, we had people that had a whole department with that and not a sociology department.

But, anyway, thanks very much. I hope we have more of these hearings. They're very interesting.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Payne.

We'll keep the record open in case members want to submit questions in writing to our witnesses for our written responses.

Chairman Riggs. And I do want to thank you all. I realize this was a very controversial subject.

I want to conclude, as is the chairman's prerogative, by just pointing out that, since we've got a lot of focus today on the DC Student Opportunities Scholarship Act, this idea of using DC public schools as a laboratory to experiment with low-income school choice, that under that legislation, no money would be removed from the public school system. It would leave public schools not only with extra classroom space, but also with additional per-pupil funding. Why do I say that? Because the average per-pupil cost at DC 350 private and parochial schools is less than half the per-pupil cost at public schools, and it would be that portion, the majority, of the per-pupil expenditure that the DC public schools would be retaining, even if that family made a decision to send their child to a private school.

In addition to the parochial high schools I cited, I'd also like to mention St. Peters on Capitol Hill charges $2,880 a year in tuition; Holy Comforter, on East Capitol Street, charges $2,000 a year, and St. Francis Xavier on Pennsylvania Avenue charges only $1,800.

Ladies and gentleman, I--

Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the record remain for additional testimony.

Chairman Riggs. I just stipulated that, Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott. For additional testimony, not questions to the witnesses.

Chairman Riggs. Yes, that would be fine.

Mr. Scott. Thank you.






Chairman Riggs. I do want to point out--and, again, this is sort of the concluding comment--that when schools are accountable to parents and students who have the freedom to choose, as I think three of our witnesses made the case very eloquently and passionately today, they will become good schools. If they do not meet the demands of parents and students--and this is simple marketplace economics--they will and should close. I just want to emphasize that. The price of failure should not be, as it is now in public education, more money, more attention, and more students. The price of failure should be a closed school. That's one reason I'm such an advocate of charter schools, because they have written performance contracts, and they do close, if they don't meet or exceed their standards.

Floyd Flake and other people argue this contention that vouchers would destroy the school system is false; vouchers would save the public school system. When enough children are given the opportunity--and we're beginning to see that in Cleveland and Milwaukee, I believe--when enough people are given, enough families are given the opportunity to leave the system because it does not meet their children's needs, the system will reform itself. Competition will only come about when parents of students are free to choose the schools that they think are best to educate them. And I've heard, again, our colleague, Floyd Flake, say that on several occasions as we approach this debate in the full House.

So, again, I want to thank our witnesses today. I'd point out that our third hearing on this subject will occur next month, and that we do anticipate being able to move legislation, draft and move legislation here in the near future.

With that, the subcommittee stands adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 1:29 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]