THE SCHOOL VOUCHER DEBATE
I think we all can agree that our present public educational system in America is horrendous. We are slipping in world rankings, yet we spend a lot of money on each child attending public schools. (second behind Switzerland)
So how do we fix our schools? Is more choice better?
Consider..........School choice, Competition, Accountability, Separation of Church and State, Robbing the poor to help the rich, race and class
Side Score: 6
Side Score: 3
Interestingly, I mentioned using vouchers for education so that we can take advantage of the competitive nature of the private sector.
1. A voucher program should cost much less than providing public education. This would be a good ease of money flow (especially since education is handled through the State, causing the tax system to be more personal).
2. The purpose of Public Education is to provide education to all Americans. Unfortunately, this has turned into a system of bureaucratic take-over, teachers' unions and even a federalized education program (no child left behind). While it's understandable that many Americans can't afford to go to current private schools, Public Education has gone from a well-intended program to a complete mess. This is inevitable with the public sector. A voucher program gives poorer and lower-middle class Americans the ability to still go to school, but have more flexibility in which schools they want their children to go to. This leads to:
3. It creates competition in the school systems. A major contributor to the public educational system being a great mess is the fact that there is no competition and the teachers are all government employees who have created a stranglehold on the school board through their teachers' unions, which have eliminated the incentive for teachers (after working for a couple of years) to work hard. In many states (possibly all), teachers can't be fired after working for a set amount of years. It doesn't matter how much they suck at their job and how many resources they suck up, they will not be fired. As well, with the Federal 'No Child Left Behind' Act, it has caused teachers to help their students cheat since their paychecks are affected by how well students do on standardized tests. In the private sector, each school will have its own standard of teaching and not only will this make parents have more control over what their children are learning, but it will also create incentive for teachers to work hard at what they do.
Is it perfect? Of course not. Nothing is. But to say that it's worse than our current public school system is really just a lie.
Side: Vouchers YES
For me this is about the freedom to choose what kind of education you want for your children. No child should be forced to attend a failing school and our public schools are failures. We spend in the United States almost more than any other country in the world (second to Switzerland) per child on education. And yet look at our global rankings. To deny a parent the ability to choose...goes against the very principles that made America great at one point.
Most of us pay property taxes. Shouldn't we have a decision as to where the funds should go?
Vouchers would hold the public schools accountable and in the long run would be competition which in my opinion is not a bad thing. Our public schools get funding no matter what...so what incentive does that give educators to reform?
Some people would say that if you allow vouchers the best and the brightest would flee from public schools and the schools would collapse. That might be the best thing that could happen however. No one should have the right to tie the hands of any child who wants to leave the public school system, for whatever reason. If parents want to send their child to an alternate school....private, charter...they have the right. And they deserve the money that they pay in taxes for the public schools to be given to them so that their child can attend the school of their choice.
It amazes me the people here who celebrate choice...and freedom....abortion etc...the right to do anything they want as long as they are not hurting anyone else. They believe however that public education should be the school of choice...when it comes to the masses. That is good enough for our kids...failing schools and a forced liberal education. It is the way to control the masses and the Left realize that. This is just one ticket to socialism. The government should not have their nose in education at all.
Even poor people want better for their children and they should get it.
Some people will say that public money should not go towards a childs religious education. Its ok that public money goes towards all sorts of other things people disagree with...like abortion. That excuse does not fly with me. Its the freedom to choose...its using the money you give for taxes to be used the way YOU believe and not your neighbor and not be forced to attend some institution that believes in a left wing liberal take on the world...whose educational curriculum is watered down. And show me in our Consitution where it even mentions the phrase...separation of church and state. Our schools instill values in kids. If some parents do not agree with these values they have a right to decide where they want their children to go.
This is about freedom. I believe competition is much better than a monopoly and that is what we have. If the government knew kids were learning and thriving in non public schools at the same cost...that would force them to reform to get rid of the teachers the union protects. Lets get rid of this socialist model we have today.....and give parents full educational freedom for their children by way of vouchers.
Side: Vouchers YES
From a strictly educational viewpoint: Yes, why is it that despite pouring so much money into the system, American students are lagging behind? Maybe the problem isn't only in the funding and access to private schools, but also the social environment. If you look at the leading countries, you'll recognize instantly the differences in youth culture - compare the average Japanese student's academic life with that of the American's. There are marked contrasts in upbringing and learning atmospheres that a few vouchers and extra choices simply cannot overcome.
(Which is not to say that it's a bad idea, but merely that to focus on this one aspect is not going to bring your students back to number one.)
Side: Vouchers NO
The greater scoring a private school may have on standardize tests is likely due to them servicing a more advantageous population. If vouchers do result in more people going to private school from the common population, then you should expect a decline in private school performance. Why, because many of the problems public schools face are the larger community's problems. I would bet that more public school attendees than private school attendees are without a sense of opportunity in the future, without a goal, have more significant problems at home, value education less due to their socio-economic background etc. If vouchers result in more tax money going to private schools, than there will be less funding for the public school system to handle these problems, which means the community at large suffers. Certainly more and better programs can and should be made to address these issues, currently schools seem to use sports, extra-curricular actives, guidance councilors etc to address these issues. However, all of that takes money. Since the parents of a private school attendee experiences the community benefit of a public school(as does the whole community), their tax contribution is justified(especially since it is spread throughout the community, and should be concentrated on businesses). Certainly the benefit can be improved, and can be partially measured in each community by how much juvenile crime spikes during the summer.
Private schools are also selective, while public schools accept almost anyone. Depending on various factors in a community, a increase in private school funding at the cost of public school funding, could also lead to more social stratification. The mixture of sub-cultures with in a public school is important for learning social harmony.
Side: Vouchers NO
Well, the point of the voucher program is to eventually eliminate Public Schools (at least, it my dreams that's how it would be).
As for Public schools being "accepting", they won't even accept people from a certain distance from their school.
As more private schools are made in order to eliminate public schools, there would be a far larger range of what kind of students these private schools will accept.
In the end, it will come down to consumer choice and competition making the schools and teachers better.
Side: Vouchers YES
I respectfully disagree casper.
They have standards in many private schools that public schools do not have. They can fire teachers they feel are inferior, this can't happen in public schools. They also can hire better teachers.
They can set their own curriculum, and also offer more higher level classes. I also think the parents who send their kids to private schools have more of a vested interest in their childs education. They want the best for their children, that is why they send them there.
Yes private schools cost more money....is there any reason as to why? They offer more, kids get a better education. Vouchers would help more kids attend private schools. In my state, Arizona we have a large number of charter schools. We also have a large percentage of parents who homeschool. What this all says is that parents are sick of sending kids to failing schools. They are sick of weak curriculums and the loss of control they have over what is taught.
Side: Vouchers YES