Friday, October 07, 2011

Why I Oppose School Vouchers by Lefty

Steve asked me to write up something about school vouchers and why I oppose them. Before we get too far into things I should probably provide a definition of a school voucher. From Wikipedia

"A school voucher, also called an education voucher, is a certificate issued by
the government, which parents can apply toward tuition at a private school (or,
by extension, to reimburse home schooling expenses), rather than at the state
school to which their child is assigned. An alternative to the education voucher
is the education tax credit, which allows individuals to use their own money to
pay for the education of their children or to donate money towards the education
of other children.

Under non-voucher education systems citizens who
currently pay for private schooling are still taxed for public schools,
therefore they fund both public and private schools simultaneously. Via
offsetting the cost of private school tuition, vouchers and tax credits are
intended to allow students and families to choose the school that best fits
their needs. Controversy surrounds whether allowing families the option of both
public and private schools undermines the public education system through
threatening its funding and enrollment."

Essentially school vouchers take tax dollars out of the public school system and allow them to be used towards tuition in private schools. I believe that this is wrong. We as a society have not only a responsibility but a duty to our children to provide them with an education. In other words it is not only my responsibility to provide an education for my children, it’s also my responsibility to provide an education for my neighbor’s children, my friends’ children, and kids from the other side of town. This is done through public schools.

Public schools, in Oklahoma at least, are financed through property taxes (among a few other things). The taxes paid on my property go to our local, neighborhood schools and help fund not only my children’s education but every other child that attends that school as well (which in this case is an elementary school but those taxes also help fund the junior high and high school). If that money was pulled out of the public education system and used as a voucher it would affect much more than just my children. Each school that was allocated those funds would suffer because I thought my child was more important than everyone else’s.

Proponents of school vouchers state that by allowing parents to use their tax dollars towards any school they see fit the loss of revenue will force the public schools to improve. The theory is that competition will make the public school better. It is my opinion that that type of thinking is naïve. Yes the public education system is broken and yes it desperately needs to be reformed and fixed, but throwing the education of our children to the wolves of competition is beyond wrong. There are some things in this world that competition cannot fix and education is one of them. If vouchers are allowed, eventually the wealthy will pull their children from the public school system, thus even further widening the divide between the haves and have-nots. As I said back in June 2010 “[w]e are in the midst of an American plutocracy and well on our way to a new brand of feudalism” and school vouchers will only help hasten this progress. That’s the sad truth of the matter – competition doesn’t always make things better.

Here are a couple of harsh truths.
1) Unbridled capitalism results in feudalism and authoritarian rule of the masses.
2) Unbridled socialism results in communism and authoritarian rule of the masses.

Neither system, if left completely to their own devices, is sustainable or ethical. There must be checks and balances in any system in order to allow it to continue and for freedom to thrive. That is why the United States Constitution is so brilliant. Born out of the Enlightenment, the Constitution—and the Declaration of Independence—provides the best framework for governance that this world has ever seen. Of course over the past 200-some-odd years we’ve done a might fine job of mucking things up through lust for power and greed but that foundation of checks and balances, of individual rights and freedoms, common welfare, and national unity is still there and something that we must hold on to. Now it goes without saying that there are things that should have been reformed over the years and I’m not naïve enough to think stripping it all down to, as ALL once put it, “the basic none” is the right answer. We must maintain those checks and balances to keep our society and economy together. And school vouchers goes completely against that principle of checks and balances.

1 comment:

  1. Education is the best gift that we can give to our children. As what people would say, the knowledge that education gives is something that will never be taken from them. For this reason, parents would always want the best schools for their children in order for them to have all the knowledge that they can get. With the choice of school, private schools in Oklahoma are always highly recommended.