Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Politics 101: School Vouchers

In my post on the debate, I said that I would look into school vouchers and what they were. So I did, and this is what I found out.

This blog is an actual transcription of free form thought as I am reading about school vouchers.

The Wiki summary did not help me much. It said a voucher is a "certificate issued by the government by which parents can pay for the education of their children at a school of their choice, rather than the public school they are assigned..."

So....they issue a certificate, but does the parent still pay out of pocket for sending their child to another school? I dunno, I'm confused.

Proponents of the voucher system say it promotes free market competition among schools of all types, which provides incentives to improve. Ok, I can go along with helping schools improve.

Proponents say the goal of the system is to localize accountability as opposed to relying on government standards.

Under non-voucher systems, citizens are charged taxes used to fund public schools, even the ones that pay for private schooling. Okay, what about a tax credit for those parents that choose to spend the money to send their children to private schools? Or is that too unfair to those parents that can't afford to send their kids to private schools? Is that what the voucher system is about?

Proponets also say that this system offers lower income students opportunities to attend unaffordable private schools.

Okay, I still don't understand it. Are us po' folk still having to pay for the schools we decide to send our kids too. Oh wait, what is the definition of a voucher? Maybe that will help me make sense of this.

A voucher is a bond (huh?) worth a certain amount of money that is only to be spent on specific reasons or specific goods, such as housing or food vouchers.
The major opponent of this system is the teachers union who claim that it could deteriorate edcuational standards, reduce funding and cost public teachers their jobs.

Well, why couldn't these teachers go find jobs at private schools and charter schools? Why do they have to stay at inefficient public schools?

Opponents say that a voucher system would not necessarily provide enough money for people to attend private schools and that tuition costs could rise along with its demand and would compound the problem.

I don't really think private schools would raise their rates just because there are more people attending them. One might say, they might raise rates because they will need to hire more staff but would this not also promote competition amongst the various private schools? Hmmm...just a thought

Other critics say that this would be a discount coupon for people that can already afford private school?

Why would they bother? Do people that can afford food go and get food stamps? No.

So in general, I guess the voucher system is a decent idea. It could work. I also think charter schools are a good idea too.


Your thoughts?

4 comments:

  1. Vouchers = Choice otter... and you're pro-choice all the way right?

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  2. McCain supports Vouchers and ..."Mr. Obama's education agenda "does not include vouchers, in any shape or form."- NYTimes

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  3. Vouchers = choice, but it may not be that simple. It all depends on how the system works.

    For example, if the voucher system is based on local property taxes, like schools are now, that means the rich kids will get larger vouchers and be able to go to better schools while the poorer kids get smaller vouchers and go to worse schools.

    Each student would need to get the exact same voucher for it to be fair.

    There's also the issue of schools being for-profit businesses. Whether or not the market can produce a better school is debatable, but it'd take a ten- or 20-year experiment to really find out.

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  4. I am thinking that the voucher system should probably work somewhat like the food stamp program. That way you have to "qualify" to get them.

    I'm not sure if basing it off property taxes would be such a great idea.

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