school vouchers

Anna Huddleston
English 1200, 009
Christy Baker
December 6, 2000
School Vouchers
The American people have a decline of confidence in the educational institutions in America. This has lead to theories behind how to improve the public schools’ situation. The most recent argument has been over school vouchers, which allow students to use a determined sum of taxpayers’ money to help in the tuition costs of private schools. This use of public funds for private education should not be allowed because it would discriminate against students who would be going to private schools for economic, political and social reasons. It will segregate the classes even more than they are today because in order for a voucher to be helpful to a family, they must have a substantial amount of money to begin with, resulting in a stratified society. Primarily however, school vouchers are a violation of the national constitution and most state constitutions.
Of course there are those who strongly support school vouchers. In many cases, the middle class is drawn to the idea because for a small amount of more money annually, one’s child may attend an institution of choice for the opportunity to receive a higher level of education in a private school. The thought is that with a private school education, a child can get into better colleges or universities allowing the possibility of escaping poverty a reality. The problem with this ideal is that very few of the middle class population can make up the tuition difference that is not covered by vouchers for a private school education, making the possibility for the impoverished families nearly impossible. Though a family may be able to make sacrifices to have the extra money for tuition alone; books, uniforms, transportation and extracurricular costs are not included. This makes it nearly impossible for anyone other than the upper classes to reap the benefits of a voucher system, and the upper class society are the section of the population that do not need the voucher because if they chose to, their children are already being educated by private institutions (House 19).
School vouchers would allow students to go to the school of their choice. This would allow competition between the schools for students and their parents’ money. The idea that schools would be more accountable for their students’ and their needs, is much like a business is responsible to oblige its customers (House 22). However, this competition is alive today in public schools, if not encouraged by the school officials themselves, by demand of the state. In everything from academic testing, to sports competitions and extracurricular activities, such as international and national competitions as Odyssey of the Mind and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, public schools have a mean of keeping their students up to par in the educational race.
An aspect of school vouchers that would not only prove beneficial for the students but also the schools is the increase in parent participation. If a parent is spending thousands more a year to supplement their child’s education, they will be more likely to be involved with the school. The parents will want to make sure the conditions of the school are up to their personal desires as well as wanting to make sure their student is performing up to standard (Lieberman 1993, 162).
Vouchers may have the possible good aspects, however, the negative aspects strongly outweigh the good. Students will be discriminated against based on race, academic achievement and economic background. Private schools have the right to filter their students and it is their right as a private institution of education. Sadly, this right may not allow Afro-American, Hispanic, Asian or other children to attend a desired school based on their ethnic background, or even gender in some cases. Private schools will also avoid the acceptance of low achievers in order to keep the reputation of the school up (Lieberman 1989, 153). The high achieving minority students, and all high achievers for that matter, would most likely do all they could to use the vouchers to go to the private schools. This would remove the role models out of the public schools for the minorities or even all other students who stay in the public school system (Lieberman 1989, 156). Private schools would