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WYPR Radio 88.1

Please listen to 88.1 WYPR Tuesday mornings at 9:30 am to hear a variety of important commentaries by Baltimore community leaders including CSFBaltimore executive director, Beth Harbinson, who will discuss educational equality, school choice, and more. Read below, Beth’s third in a series of pieces for WYPR which will air Tuesday, January 20th at 9:30 am.

Playing The Lottery

Occasionally I play the lottery. I have the right to take a chance with my dollar to win BIG or lose small. Lotteries for spots in Charter Schools don’t provide enough “choice” for Baltimore City students. The alternatives low-income families have for their children may not be good enough, and with this lottery, they have far more to lose than a $1.

At Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore we select low-income families who have put their names in a lottery for tuition assistance to send their K – 8th grade children to a private school. The number of families we can select as “winners” is based on our funds and the number of current students who have created vacancies by moving on to high school.

I don’t like lotteries for education. If the single biggest predictor of poverty – a good education – is subject to a lottery, what does this say about our society and the value we place on education or on ending poverty for that matter?

The Baltimore Business Journal reported last month that income and poverty levels were about the same here as they were at the end of the recession.

At CSFB, we are not surprised. We have seen a consistent level of families who put their names on our waiting list in hopes of being selected at random to receive tuition assistance.

Dr. Alex Schue who recently completed a study of CSF graduates in Baltimore says “Having worked with CSF programs all over the country for over a decade now, I believe there is something to the simple idea of feeling like an organization is there to give you an opportunity when few opportunities are available to you. Support for a parent’s chosen school in the early years appears to have strong correlation to later success.”

Dr. Schue’s study reports an impressive outcome – a 97% high school graduation rate and an 84% college attendance rate– a consequence of K – 8th grade private school tuition assistance.

We need to offer more than a chance of success by fully funding school choice with an education tax credit and continue to support programs that succeed like our innovative, successful public charter schools, KIPP and Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore.

Let’s not gamble on education – the consequences of poor education and not graduating from high school or college last a lifetime.

Read Beth’s previous pieces for WYPR:

What is School Choice? – Aired Tuesday, October 14th at 7:35 am.
Competition is Good – Aired Tuesday, December 16th at 7:35 am.

*Art by Tim Stump for WYPR 88.1 FM

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