It is my opinion that public schools will never be as good as a school voucher system. The reason being, that, especially in the poorer neighborhoods, they currently don't have to compete for students.

Fact: US students are in the vanguard of world students on tests in the 4th grade.
Fact: US students score in the lowest group at graduation of industrialized nations.
Fact: Despite our poor students, our universities from top to bottom attract international students because of their quality.

My contention: Colleges are better because they have to compete for students.

In poor neighborhoods, parents can neither afford to send their children to private schools, homeschool them, nor move to a better school district. Their only option is to send them to the local public school. I believe that everyone in the US can succeed if they work hard enough, but these children are at a severe disadvantage. Even if we gave these poor schools, for the schools are underfunded also, the same amount that schools in richer counties get, I believe they would still underperform. They don't have to compete for their students. There is no pressure on them to perform. If they privide a low quality education, which they often do, they still get the same number of students. There are no consequences.

A voucher system would reward the schools that provide good education and punish the schools that provide low quality education. The schools that provide good education would attract more students, meaning more money, and they would be able to expand. The schools that lose students will have to reform their policies so that they stop losing students.

People who are against vouchers say that they hurt public schools, and that instead of hurting public schools we should be helping them by giving them more money. The only way public schools would be hurt is if the parents of the students in those schools take their children out because they think their children will recieve a better education elsewhere. If their students will recieve a better education elsewhere, should we stop them from moving their kids? We should instead them choose where their child goes to school. Schools will have to compete for students. In fact, the good public schools in an area will probably grow, while the bad ones will probably shrink. The bad ones will continue to shrink until they change their ways and start providing a good education.

People against school vouchers also say that there would be no market, that parents only option would be current private schools, who's tuition vastly exceeds what any voucher would offer. First off, vouchers would let parents move their child from bad public schools to good public schools. Also, the fact of the matter lies in economic basics. Where there is demand, supply will arise. If there is a market of parents who suddenly have money to spend on their childrens' education, new schools will pop up.

The funny thing is that teacher's unions are against this. There was an interview with the head of a union and he was asked if a voucher system with vouchers worth three times the current amount spent would be better than the current system. He replied that no it would not. The teachers' motives seem obvious to me, they don't want to compete. A voucher system would cut the fat, the bad teachers and maybe some administrators, and they are afraid of this.

Enough talking about the opposition. Let me describe what I think will happen after such a system has been implemented. The good public schools in an area will grow. The bad public schools will shrink. People who have new ideas about education will start new schools and implement them. If the ideas are good, those schools will grow. Inovation will result. There will be competition. Schools will improve.

I'm all for spending more on our youth's education. I just think that this system would be better in the long run. Its main selling point is that it gives poor families the power to choose.

One final point, school vouchers would be especially good if they were made progressive. This would mean that poorer students would recieve more money. This is fair, their parents have less to spend on tuition. The effect of this would be that schools would recruit poorer kids. This would work toward leveling the playing field of life.

Ideas based on similar beliefs:
School Accountability Through Testing
School Choice

In recent years, legislation providing financial assistance to parents who wish to enroll their children in private schools has been introduced in several state legislatures and ballot initiatives. The most striking example of this opposition was the defeat of Proposition 174, a California voucher initiative that lost on November 2, 1993. Under the initiative proposal, parents would have been entitled to a voucher worth $2,600 (about half of the $5,200 that the state supposedly spends annually per elementary and secondary pupil) to enroll a child in any public or private school of their choosing, including parochial schools. About 15 percent of all school children in the United States live in California. Of California's nearly six million students, 550,000 of them were enrolled in some 3,839 private and religious schools where the average tuition charged was about $7,000 per year; however, a large number of California private schools, especially Catholic schools, charged much less for tuition (New York Times, 1993).

Both proponents and opponents of Proposition 174 agreed that its enactment could set off a chain reaction of school choice laws across the nation. Understandably, the initiative ignited what may have been the most intensive campaign over a state educational initiative in U.S. history.

Proposition 174 was defeated in every precinct in the state, but did most poorly in affluent areas. High-turnout voters in wealthy districts worried vouchers would disrupt their competitive school systems. Proposition 174 was opposed by many taxpayer's groups. These groups were convinced that vouchers would mean an explosion in education taxes, as millions of dollars would go to families currently in private schools, even Governor Pete Wilson opposed Proposition 174. Many California voters in 1993 saw Proposition 174 as re-opening the door to the school integration fights many of them had just fled. More commonly termed white flight, Prop 174 had students from every district crossing district lines, introducing the possibility of lawsuits regarding racial disparities in the better districts.

The National Education Association spent a great deal of money in the effort to re soundly defeat the Proposition and their official stance as of this writing is:

The National Education Association believes that voucher plans, tuition tax credits, or other funding arrangements that use tax monies to subsidize pre-K through 12 private school education can undermine public education, reduce the support needed to fund public education adequately, weaken the wall of separation between church and state, and cause racial, economic, and social segregation of students.

The Association opposes voucher plans, tuition tax credits, or other such funding arrangements that pay for students to attend sectarian schools. The Association also opposes any such arrangements that pay for students to attend nonsectarian pre-K through 12 private schools in order to obtain educational services that are available to them in public schools to which they have reasonable access. (1970, 2000)

NEA 2000-2001 Resolutions
A-23. Voucher Plans and Tuition Tax Credits

With every parent getting a voucher from the State in the amount of $2600 for each child in K-12, one has to consider the fact that the money required to supplement the vouchers would have come from state taxes and out of public education. In California this amounts to about $6 billion a year. This would have raised state taxes still leaving the parent having to pay the difference between the voucher and the school fee. The average yearly cost of a secular private school in California is $10,000 while religious schools average $3000. This discrepancy is based on quality of teachers, infrastructure, and the fact that religious schools are subsidized by the local Church and its national and international fund raising pool. Just on its face it is obvious that the haves will be subsidized by tax money to take advantage of good quality schools while the have-nots will either use what is left of the public system or send their children to below standard schools. It costs more to send a student to an alternative school than a low-income parent could possibly afford even with the aid of a government voucher. Such a system will further increase the racist and socioeconomic dilemma of two nations separate and unequal.

A measurement of the only voucher system in place, at present, is in Milwaukee. Encompassing 700 inner city children it has been in place for a few years. The results are that there is no difference in math scores between public and private students, a drop in reading skills in the voucher students, and some of the schools are failing; leaving students stranded without a school at all.

State-enacted voucher programs are up and running in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Florida, and all three have undergone or are still in court challenges. The longest running of these programs, Milwaukee's, was upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court-a decision the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review. It is a separation of church and state issue; taxpayers object to their tax monies going from the government to parents and then to a non secular school. The reason the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review the cases in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Florida is because they know that voucher systems in place would not stand up to the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution: 1) being secular in purpose, 2) must neither inhibit or advance religion, and 3) must not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion.Lawsuits over the Cleveland and Florida programs are in progress. Both sides in the national debate say the Supreme Court in the end must settle the matter.

All these factors are an aside from the constitutional questions in the issue. Infrastructure, teaching aids, computers and well paid teachers would indeed facilitate and improve education.

Currently, Magnet and Charter schools are popping up all over the country. Some are successful and some are not, and it is really too soon for valid results to be applied to entire systems. The voucher question still remains as to whether this is possible under the separation clause of the First Amendment or will the constitution have to be amended. Probably it will be pushed as a States Rights issue and be up to the federal courts to decide.

So far taxpayers and parents know that vouchers have not passed the ultimate test -- improving student achievement. Additionally, economic, as well as, Constitutional factors are holding up the issue. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the voucher debate over the next two years.

Sources:

National Center For Education Statistics:
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/finance/98217.html

National Education Association:
http://www.nea.org/resolutions/

New York Times, 1993.

School vouchers are one of the many proposed solutions to the myriad of problems facing American public schools. The idea is this:

Public schools have budgets and end up spending x dollars per pupil. The value of x differs wildly from school district to school district, from around 5 grand in Mississippi and Utah, to over $10,000 in the northeastern United States. School vouchers would take a portion of this amount (half is what I have seen most often) and issue a voucher for each child to his parent. The parent would then use the voucher as payment for whatever school he wishes to send his child. This plan is heralded by many conservatives and libertarians as a method of improving education. It is castigated by liberals just as vehemently as the destroyer of public education and the crumbling of the wall separating church and state. There is certainly a potential benefit in allowing market forces to work on the product of education, but this potential benefit may be overshadowed by some serious potential problems. I've listed my most serious concerns below:

  • The government never writes a check without entangling itself in the internal workings of those to whom the check is written. Is there anyone here who really believes the government, which in the past has used its power to regulate interstate commerce to perform such tasks as disallowing the growth of crops for ones own consumption and forcibly desegregating private businesses, would actually pay someone directly who didn't do pretty much exactly what they wanted them to do? Implementing vouchers would indeed mix government and religion, and the government always winds up as the dominant partner in such an arrangement. It would only be a matter of time before the government would decide which practices are permitted within schools and which ones are not. Even though it would be states and localities actually administering the funds, the federal government would usurp control over the process in due time, even as they now basically control the operation of public schools, despite only picking up about 10% of the tab. School vouchers would effectively be a death knell for meaningful religion, as well as one for limited government. The libertarian proponents of this policy have no idea of the horror they will unleash by inviting the government into parochial schools and other private schools. The solution to failing public schools is not to make all the private ones public as well.


  • Vouchers are a form of welfare. This is much less of a concern than the issue above, but it does merit mention that vouchers are another type of government entitlement. By issuing the vouchers to parents in equal amounts, vouchers are effectively (forced) payments to the poor from the wealthy, who pay far more property taxes. Many people receiving vouchers would probably not have paid any taxes into the pool from which they are drawn at all. Even more insidious, vouchers are a forced transfer of capital from people who have no children to those who do, irrespective of income. How can anyone justify taking money from a young married couple with no children and a starter home to a wealthy couple with a million dollar home and a kid or two? This is the reality of voucher programs. Of course, this transfer occurs already, with public school funding, but, the wealthy couple may decide on private schools, so that at least some of them do not benefit from the plunder of their neighbors. With vouchers, this distinction is rendered meaningless. Also, vouchers virtually guarantee this sort of redistribution of wealth by pooling the taxes of a larger area than the current setup.


  • Vouchers reward failure. As has been stated elsewhere, vouchers would not result in all the taxes paid by someone being disbursed to the school of his/her choice, rather a percentage of those taxes. The rest presumably would go back to the public schools. This would give public schools an actual incentive to get rid of students. While ridding themselves of students would cause the loss of some teachers, the ones who remained, along with the administrators, would have more money per student to play with. If there were, say 10,000 students in a district, and $5,000 were being spent per student (lower than average, but an easy number to work with), 50 million dollars would be spent on schools. Let's say that half of this would automatically be given to public schools. The other half would go to both private schools and public shools. If the public schools lost 1000 students, 10 percent of the student population, they would only lose 5% of funding. If they lost half, they would only lose 25% of funding. Any business would downsize if cutting 2 dollars in expenses resulted in only a 1 dollar loss in revenue. An already wasteful government program would only get more wasteful, and would be rewarded handsomely for it.

I notice a lot of people saying that the public schools are underfunded. As someone who has watched several public schools go up, I can say for certain that this is not the case. It's a fact that the US already spends much more money per student than most other nations, including Japan (whose educational system we idolize even though the teen suicide rate is fully triple that of the US, with a lot of the blame directly traceable to the educational system).

No, it's not that they're underfunded. It's that the money is misspent. I can't even begin to tell you all of the gross overspending on nonessentials I've seen in newer public schools. And I'm not talking about extracurricular activities, mind you.

I'm talking about vaulted glass ceilings and carpeted floors in the newest buildings when the students have to share textbooks because "there wasn't enough money."

I'm talking about the slashing of accelerated programs to challenge the gifted, while at the same time filling the buildings with wireless networks that no more than 1% of the current students can even use (and probably less than even that), and yet not equipping those same networks with actual educational material such that the most use it gets is Quake deathmatches during study hall.

I'm talking about the misuse of computers in the classroom, not as the teaching aids they are meant to be, but as replacements for actual teaching. The rresult: the "requirement" that each student have one, draining the resources unnecessarily.

I'm talking about school board executives with the use of county cars, when driver's education courses are stuck with older vehicles.

I'm talking about teachers who truly care about their work getting shafted in terms of money, recognition, and respect, while those who are "in it for June, July, and August" aren't accountable for this.

No. There's more than enough money in the public school system; the true problem lies in the corruption in its higher levels. If the school boards would get their heads screwed on straight, you'd find money you never even knew was there, and you'd find it in quantities you'd never imagined.

That's why I'm in favor of vouchers. Because I think competition will force the mismanagement to end. I was a public-school refugee myself. When I realized just how abysmal the public education system in the US really is, particularly as compared to its private schools, I started looking into why. I know where the money is going. Here's a hint: it's not towards the students, and it's not towards the teachers.

I'm hoping that competition will force changes in the public education system. Something has to, because what we have now certainly isn't working. I think the "separation of church and state" issue is ludicrous for two reasons: one, not all private schools are parochial, and two, even those with religious backgrounds often do not allow this to enter into the curriculum (most Quaker schools, for example, don't actually bring religion into any educational aspect of the school). Besides which, if vouchers are withheld from parochial schools, you're then violating separation of church and state again: this time by discriminating because of religion.

And also, I frankly don't think that someone who does choose to spend the money on private school should be forced to pay tuition twice: once for the school the child is attending and once for a school the child will never attend. I fail to see how this is fair, when those who are still in the public education system only pay once, for a school the child is attending.

This would make sense if equal funding was given to all public schools, let alone to all public and private. If you're going to adopt the corporate model (where all teachers, like employees, are tiered to a certain level of production that, here, is measurable in the tested knowledge of their students) in regards to education, you have to begin with the assumption that all schools are given equal footing financially. That way it becomes easy to dump responsibility onto lazy schoolteachers, fatcat bureaucrats, and teaching unions for the sad state of most public education because once you eliminate or talk down the money variable it becomes an abstract discussion on responsibility.

Fact is, most lower-education institutes in the country are vastly under-funded. I happen to come from Los Gatos, Ca which boasts one of the better public school systems in the state, and it's easy to see why: like many other schools in affluent areas (and unlike many in poorer zones), Los Gatos High School succeeded in generating a lot of funding through local property taxes, which go directly to the school's budget. Not through the state, not through the county. Directly. Did we have our share of administrative BS, lazy teachers, or bloated union policies? Sure. But for the most part, we had excellent teaching and relatively clean overhead for a simple reason: we could afford it. We also had a lot more financial opportunity for things like AP classes, afterschool programs, sports, publications, clubs, etc - and that's not even counting the extra money raised from wealthy local parents.

That said, I stand strongly against voucher programs. Why? Because the voucher system actually pumps in more money to schools like LGHS. "No," you might say, "we are empowering the poor with this system by giving them a vote, a direct voice against their corrupted public school systems." This is hogwash. Let's be generous for a minute and assume that the vouchers are all going back into the public school system (and are not being used by the wealthy to subsidize private education - which the poor, even with vouchers in hand, cannot afford - on the taxpayer's dollar):

Imagine for a second that there are five public schools in a given area, ranked A,B, C, D, and F, each grade corresponding to the quality of education offered at that school. I expect little argument to my proposition that school A, which offers the highest quality of education, will most likely be located in the most affluent residential district, whereas F will most likely be located in one of the poorest areas (I challenge those who favor vouchers to provide a concrete countermodel with factual data). Now what happens when you introduce vouchers into this system? Well, everybody with their wits about them at schools B, C, D, and F are going to stick their vouchers into school A and try to get their students into that school, since it provides better education.

Two things will therefore result from this: school A will suddenly have a lot more state funding, so its performance will shoot through the roof. It will become A+++. It will also become way overcrowded with the influx of so many new students, akin to what is currently happening at my Alma Matter. Also, schools B, C, D, and F will see their funding dry up like the Nevada desert and their performance will hit the proverbial toilet. Keep in mind that even this is an idealized system which does not include the money skimmed by private schools into the equation.

The point of all this is that the schools that are most often the highest performers are those who have the best financial resources on hand. If one suddenly converts education into a market system after these schools have enjoyed for many years the benefits of the communities that they reside in, they will, predictably, be the best performers. This is exactly what vouchers are poised to do.

A much more reasonable and intelligent solution involves the creation of state-funded magnet schools, where the government goes about creating and subsidizing specialized highschools in poor urban areas for various studies (there are magnet schools in the arts, for instance, and in science, athletics, etc..). This, I believe, has been much more successful in leveling the playing field.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.