Archive for June, 2012

Plus and Minus for School Vouchers

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

To our readers: Take Care Schools has taken a month’s pause. Posts will resume every 7-10 days until August 2012 when we will resume weekly comment on educational topics in the news.

Good news! With state funds continuing to face a shortfall, school districts will benefit from passage of school bond proposals in the primary elections. Since Congress cannot agree on support for schools, such funds from successful bond efforts offer relief to districts that need funds for infrastructure renovations.

However, a glitch appears before our eyes. The word “voucher” is heard. After loud discussion about Congressional budget proposals that included Medicare vouchers died down, the likely conservative nominee for the November presidential elections advocated school vouchers.

In the opinion of this blog’s writers, it is unconscionable to recommend vouchers to parents who need another choice for a school. Congress is unwilling and states are unable to raise enough revenue to support the basic programs for the state and country. How is money to be found to offer school vouchers to families?

Setting aside funds for school vouchers have long been touted as a way to provide school choice to parents unsatisfied with the neighborhood public school. Simply speaking, the amount of the voucher is often based on the amount calculated to provide school services for each student in a school district. A parent applies for a voucher for the amount provided by the school district per student which is then used to defray the cost of a seat in a private or parochial school.

Voucher advocates claim that families that don’t have the resources can use vouchers to gain access to a better school-private or parochial. Critics say that proclaiming vouchers will provide a seat to a previously inaccessible school is unlikely because the amount for a private or parochial school seat is often more than the voucher is worth.

Advocates claim that using vouchers force public schools to improve curriculum and services as in a supply and demand market. Voucher critics say that schools needing improvement must focus time and resources on the long term goals to improve–not compete.

Passing state legislation to provide vouchers hits a barrage of hurdles from overwhelming budget shortfalls, conflicting perceptions of the impact on school districts, and blaming teachers’ unions. Thus, Pennsylvania voucher legislation, for example, remains on the table, not brought up for a vote, in the legislature. On the other hand, Louisiana and Indiana state legislatures have managed to pass voucher legislation.

For those concerned with improving public schools, this blog advocates relentless messages to Congress and state governments. Pass legislation to help college students pay off loans, support adult education, and agree on budgets that adequately support K-12 public schools instead of using vouchers that pull funds away from schools.