the battle over school choice

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press reaction

The New York Times Caryn James

"...Despite its eye-glazing title, 'The Battle Over School Choice' turns out to be a smooth, humanizing primer on an issue that is both central to the presidential campaign and deadly dull in the abstract. The main subject is vouchers, with which the government pays for students to attend private shcools.

...There are interviews with Vice President Al Gore, who opposes vouchers, and Gov. George W. Bush, who supports them, but the documentary makes the point that there is less difference between the candidates' views than their ads contend. (And really, who is against higher standards and better education?)

The failure of this otherwise lucid, engaging documentary is in its modest ambition: it offers only glancing references to a profound, underlying issue it is easier to ignore: how much the battle over school choice is really about race and class."

Star Tribun, Minneapolis Noel Holston

"...'School Choice,' a FRONTLINE report, is perhaps the fairest, calmest examination of private-school vouchers and other education-reform proposals ever presented on TV."

The Denver Post Diane Eicher

"...'The Battle Over School Choice' examines the politics of education and the reform intiatives being tested around the country.... It's a comprehensive look at the crucial problems facing public education today, and gives an unbiased look at both sides.

...George W. Bush favors taking federal money from failing schools and giving it to parents, who then could shop to send their kids to whatever schools they want.

Al Gore, however, calls vouchers the 'fool's gold' of the choice debate. Instead, he advocates shutting down failing schools and replacing them with a new staff.

...[The program] may not change any minds, but it will make viewers better informed about the education debate."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Jane Elizabeth

"...while 'The Battle Over School Choice' does a fine job of explaining school choice, the benefits of tailored-to-fit schooling can be defined only anecdotally. Some school choice programs fail; some succeed. But, as Frontline points out, no studies have yet been able to prove their worth, except for the fact that many parents are happy simply to have a choice...."

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland Tom Feran

"...Frontline offers a succinct and even-handed overview of the voucher issue in Cleveland. ...

Frontline also examines charter schools, which offer choice without the controversy of vouchers as 'public schools that act like private schools....'

It finds a mixed record, with a glowing example in a desperately blighted part of Youngstown, at a secular charter school run by two nuns. ..."

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