School Vouchers and Public EducationSchool choice and vouchers gained favor in the 1980s as marketers addressed concerns on American educational form policy (Chudgar, Adamson & Carnoy, 2007). Differing marketing ideals resulted in a debate between proponents of individual choice/ publically run educational system, equity, and public accountability. Market proponents’ support of school vouchers is influenced by empirical evidence, which show the link between student improvement in traditional schools, and competition (Chudgar, Adamson & Carnoy, 2007).

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Are school vouchers good for public education?

This question has been posed on numerous occasions within traditional school settings because it is not as widely implemented as it is discussed. Chudgar, Adamson & Carnoy (2007) state that only Washington and 12 other states have voucher programs. This equates to about 190, 000 students out of the possible 54 million in public schools who access this program.

Teachers’ Unions reject the notion that there is a positive correlation between school vouchers, and increase in test scores. Proponents’ deem their concerns invalid. Data proves that vouchers are directly responsible for the increase in high school graduation rates. Low-income students now have a better chance of climbing the economic ladder, so it is worth fighting to keep vouchers in school. Results from a study conducted in Milwaukee show that students in the 9th grade who use vouchers represented 77% of the graduating class; 8 % higher than those in public schools. There is only a 69% graduation rate for students in public high schools. Proponents in Milwaukee also stated that voucher programs benefit a small percentage of students, it influences greater use of vouchers in private schools, provides large stimulus to government-run schools, illustrates the inefficiency of government-run schools when it providers higher quality education at a cheaper cost per student (“Why America needs Vouchers, n.d.”). Team America recruits recent college graduates to work at public schools that are failing; its findings also show that only 50% of the students by the age of eighteen graduate from high school (Trinko, 2011).

Does competition between schools produce better students and better student outcomes?
California created Proposition 38 to prove that competition producers better students, and better student outcomes. It provides for a higher scholarships, which is close to half of what students receive in government-run schools. New teaching strategies would replace traditional practices, and cost would decrease as quality increases. Good teachers would now receive rewards that mirror their quality of services in a market driven educational economy. Competition closes the wage gap between less-skilled, and more skilled individuals, which delineates the line between the “haves”, and “have nots”. Government schools would be forced to compete or go out of business. Taxpayer would largely benefit from a break in government spending; vouchers cut spending by 50 percent. This causes Teachers’ Unions to lose control. For this reason they oppose Proposition 38(“Why America needs Vouchers, n.d.”).

Critics argue that school vouchers tend to create performance disparities—is this an acceptable byproduct of increasing competition and bureaucratic efficiency?
Private industries are afforded rights that allow them to discriminate against students for various reasons. Students are often rejected without reason, for disciplinary issues, and low-income status. Critics believe that a system of vouchers do not have the controls to prevent hate groups like the Klu Klux Klan from accessing public assistance subsidize its racist ideologies. This sends a message to parents, and advocates that there is no longer support for public education.

Even though vouchers allow low income students more access to quality education, it is the American public school system that makes education affordable, and available to all without discrimination. Voucher programs promote segregated schools, erase the legacy of Brown vs Board of Education, and change the nature of American democracy (“School Vouchers the Wrong Choice for Public Education: Vouchers Undermine Public Schools, n.d.”)

    References
  • Chudgar, A., Adamson, F., & Carnoy, M. (2007). Vouchers and Public School Performance: A Case Study of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.epi.org/publication/book_vouchers/
  • School Vouchers The Wrong Choice for Public Education: Vouchers Undermine Public Schools. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://archive.adl.org/vouchers/vouchers_public_schools.html#.VumaGuIrKM8
  • Trinko, K. (2011). Why school vouchers are worth a shot. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-04-18-school-vouchers-worth-a-shot.htm
  • Why America needs School Vouchers (2008). Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.edchoice.org/who-we-are/our-founders/the-friedmans-on-school-choice/article/why-america-needs-school-vouchers/