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Panel Discussion on the Voucher Initiative

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

-Derek Bok

What is the voucher initiative? How will it affect public and private schools? What is the best way to implement a voucher system? These questions and many more will be addressed in our panel debate on the voucher initiative. The Athenaeum is indeed fortunate to have three distinguished speakers addressing different sides of the voucher issue. Terry Moe is a proponent of the voucher initiative. Albert Shanker is vehemently opposed to any kind of voucher plan. Contrary to both Shanker and Moe, John Coons is pro-voucher but does not like the current voucher initiative.

Mr. Terry M. Moe is currently a professor of political science at Stanford University. He has authored a book entitled Politics, Markets, and America's Schools (1990) that has received much national attention. Professor Moe has also, in connection with the Brookings Institution-where he served as a senior fellow-written a book entitled A Lesson in School Reform from Great Britain (1992). He will attempt to convince us that there is a need for the voucher initiative in the American school system.

An opponent to the voucher initiative, Albert Shanker has been the president of American Federation of Teachers since 1974. As the first teacher to become a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, Mr. Shanker now holds the position of senior vice-president of the AFL-CIO. He is also chairman of the General Board's Department for Professional Employees, the chair of the General Board's International Affairs Committee, and the founding president of Education International, a federation of teachers from democratic countries around the world. Mr. Shanker has earned a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University. Furthermore, he has taught at New York City schools, as well as at Harvard University and Hunter College.

A professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, Professor John E. Coons supports the idea of vouchers in education, but not the current voucher initiative. He has taught at numerous institutions all over the world including Northwestern University, University of Freiburg, University of Cologne, and the University of Tokyo. He was also a scholar in residence at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy. Professor Coons has written many books, articles, and chapters on the issue of vouchers. His books include Family Choice in Education: A Model for State Voucher Systems (1971), Education by Choice: The Case for Family Control (1978), and Scholarships for Children (1992).

The debate will take place in McKenna Auditorium. Be prepared for a lively debate and a most exciting evening.