In his April 17 Metro column, "Cafritz Rolls With the Polls," Marc Fisher quoted from statements opposing vouchers that he found on my Web site. But I had already told another Post writer that I never wrote those words. Further, Mr. Fisher made no attempt to contact me before writing his column.
Let me clarify my position. I did oppose vouchers previously. But as president of the D.C. Board of Education for the past 28 months, I have seen the frustration of parents and children in the public schools, charter schools and Catholic schools. I now am convinced that we need an educational revolution in the District and that we must be open to any course that works.
Further, we have a Republican Senate, House and president, and passage of a voucher bill is almost a certainty. Therefore, it would be unrealistic and counterproductive to declare that we won't have vouchers in the District.
The District already has a private voucher program used by thousands of students. Soon, however, it will run out of money. So federal vouchers would have many takers.
If D.C. Public Schools does not work with Education Secretary Rod Paige to fashion the best public education system possible, we will end up with many unacceptable public schools, lots of failing charters and an anemic voucher program. Good schools could give our children a better shot at lives full of possib0ilities.
Catholic schools are wrestling with the same problems as the public and charter schools. Many parochial schools perform poorly. We need to encourage the Jesuits to expand their efforts, and, with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, we should work to attract some of the successful models of Catholic educational reform.
D.C. Public Schools, charters and many private schools need to approach Congress as a united front to enlist its support for the education of the District's young people.
Mr. Fisher says I have flip-flopped on vouchers. I believe I have evolved. The sole reason I am president of the D.C. Board of Education is to ensure that the District's children are healthy, ready to learn and well educated. That is why I am devoted to transforming the D.C. schools and why I will support vouchers and charter schools.
PEGGY COOPER CAFRITZ
D.C. Board of Education