compliments of Bing.com
School vouchers are a topic that has stirred a lot of heated debate. This article reviews the pros and cons of school voucher programs. The article is taken from the following Sources: National Education Association, Vouchers [online] School Choices, A Citizen’s Guide to Education Reform [online] PBS, NOW with Bill Moyers: Society and Community - American Education, School Vouchers [online]
The school voucher debate is part of the larger discussion about a parent’s right to choose which school his or her child attends. Individuals and organizations on both sides of the school vouchers debate have passionate arguments about whether vouchers are effective, fair, or even legal.
School voucher programs allow parents to use monetary vouchers from the city, state or federal government to pay for their child’s private school education. A few U.S. cities, and many foreign countries, already have school voucher programs in place, and some states are considering voucher programs. The amount of the voucher is generally about the same amount that is granted to public schools for each child’s education. In some cases, school vouchers only go to those who have a lower income or are attending substandard schools, though some school vouchers can be used by anyone at any school. The idea behind either type of program is to allow parents more choices in their children’s education and to provide opportunities to children whose schools are failing them.
School vouchers touch on issues of separation of church and state, parents’ rights to have a choice in their children’s education, and the future of America in the education of its young people. Because these topics are so important in the United States, it is not surprising that they stir a great deal of emotion in people and lead to debates with strong arguments on both sides.
People who support school vouchers claim that:
- Parents have a right to decide where their children will attend school, regardless of their income. It is not fair that only wealthier students or students who are able to earn scholarships are able to attend private schools.
- Parents who do send their students to private schools are paying twice for their education; they are paying for the public education system through taxes, but they are also paying for their student’s tuition at a private school.
- Because schools are supported by tax money, parents have the right to decide how it is spent in the case of their children.
- People deserve choices in education because families have different needs that may not be met by the current public education system.
- The government is not doing a satisfactory job running the education system, so it’s time to privatize education.
- School vouchers would improve the quality of education in America by increasing competition between schools.
- Vouchers would give disadvantaged young people a chance to experience a better education.
Some people who support vouchers think of them as part of the larger education system, competing alongside a variety of public schools to give parents and students educational choices. Others would prefer to see the entire education system privatized, meaning the government would no longer support any public schools, and vouchers would let parents choose between private schools.
People who oppose school vouchers claim that:
- School vouchers take money away from public schools, where it is desperately needed to fund educational programs for all students.
- The majority of private schools are religious, so through school vouchers, tax money would be going to support a religious institution, violating the separation of church and state.
- School vouchers are elitist and would not benefit all students equally; private schools could still turn away students and discriminate against some groups.
- School vouchers would serve to further divide America, while public schools help to unite it.
- Private schools would just increase their tuition if vouchers were instituted, meaning they would make more money, and still turn away poor students.
- Poor quality private schools would pop up to take advantage of unsuspecting families with school vouchers.
Both sides of the debate look at experimental school voucher programs and argue over whether or not they are successful. Because school voucher programs vary from place to place, they are hard to compare. Some voucher programs seek to eliminate some of the concerns above, such as by requiring private school in the city or state to accept vouchers for the entire cost of tuition, so private schools can’t prevent people from using the vouchers by raising tuition. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the argument that school vouchers violate the separation of church and state, as long as parents have a free choice in where they use the vouchers, but several state courts have struck down voucher programs because they violate the state constitution. This variation in local programs and laws means that both the efficiency and the legality of vouchers are still open topics for debate, as is the issue of fairness.
I always love a good infographic. They provide a creative glimpse at a topic with some hard data.
The infographic above reflects the progress of school choice movements.
School choice is certainly not a topic that is going away. It has been pushed on the back burner by many lawmakers in various states, but parents are demanding school choice programs. I envision that we will soon see another big push for School Choice and voucher systems.
Only time will tell in which direction are lawmakers will take our schools.
Infographic above courtesy of voiceforschoolchoice.com
Back in January for National School Choice Week, a rally was held at Union Station to promote School Choice.
Check out this article the Chicago Tribune wrote about the rally.
Chicago is in the midst of closing/consolidating over 50 schools before next school year begins. School Choice for parents and students is at a critical point in Chicago. Do we make room for more charter schools? Ultimately, that is what many of the soon-to-be empty public schools will be taken over by. Do we provide opportunities for students to attend private schools? The Big Shoulders Fund in Chicago is one such organization that provides opportunities for inner-city children to attend area Catholic schools. Educational choices are changing and the system needs to start working with parents and schools so as to provide the best opportunities for our children.
I came across two editorials from March of 2011 in USA Today.
The first editorial: Our view: When teachers cheat, don’t blame standardized tests offers an interesting take on ways to deter cheating on standardized tests by both teachers and students.
The second editorial: Opposing view: Address real cause of cheating addresses ways to handle the root cause of cheating.
While both editorials are over two years old, they offer perspectives that are often not heard.
Check out the editorials and let me know what you think.
In a school culture where we teachers try so hard to help students be honest (and not to cheat), why then do we hear of more and more teachers cheating themselves?
The answer is simple. More and more (ignorant, ill-educated, ill-informed) legislators are imposing sanctions on teachers–and schools!–where students are not performing yet better on high-stakes standardized tests.
When NCLB was the only game in town, some schools across the country were even shut down because their students didn’t show adequate yearly progress. When Obama announced the voluntary excision of NCLB from the states, we thought sure there would be more states opting out, but that hasn’t proven to be the case. I think it is because legislators still demand standardized-test proof that schools are doing well, and states haven’t come up with alternative measures for it.
I think the direction is clear. At present, many schools base performance pay on student scores. It’s a short leap to setting salaries by test scores, and a small tumble down the precipice to firing teachers based on these scores.
No wonder teachers are induced to cheat. Here are some ways they do it.
My favorite way for adults to handle these unfair measurements is John Gatto’s Bartleby Project. In Melville’s short story, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” the main character handles his daily grind by politely saying, “I would prefer not to.”
Of course, teachers can’t say that, but students can. I wish that Gatto’s approach would become a national movement.