School Vouchers

What is a School Voucher?

School vouchers is a trend that has many people in an uproar. Some say that school vouchers will equalize educational opportunities for students, while others say vouchers will widen the gap of inequality. School vouchers are supposed to give parents a choice as to where their children can go to school, but their choice is not necessarily the only factor in determining the school their children end up in. So, the question is: what is a voucher and what does it buy?

School vouchers are a way of helping low income families give their children a better education by allotting them money in the form of a coupon. In doing this, the state has to provide vouchers for every child attending school, not just children of low income families. The value of a school voucher has been determined at $3,000 per child. This voucher is used by parents to pay for a school of their choice. It is said that vouchers open the door for children of lower income to enter a public or private school.

Pros and Cons.

This is not entirely true. Although a parent can chose a public or private school, private schools are not obligated to take the child. Most private schools require an interview and check academic achievement. If the child does not meet the requirements, then he/she will not be admitted. On the other hand, all public schools have to accept everyone that comes through the door. As long as the private schools have this admission policy, it is unlikely that this will equalize educational opportunities. The equality issue seems to be lop sided with regard to the admission of students because private schools do not have to admit everyone who comes to them and public school do.

With the $3,000 voucher, a parent may choose a private school and their child may be accepted, but there is still another factor involved in this equation. Private schools charge tuition and that tuition may be greater than the amount of the voucher. This may not be a problem for the middle to upper class family, but a low income family would not be able to afford the extra money to send their child to a private school. Again, this seems as though the schools would still be unequal in its giving parents a choice because only those who can afford the private school will be attending them and those who cannot will be forced to go to a public school.

Although, for those low income families the opportunity of choice may be giving some children privileges of a better quality of education that they may not have otherwise been able to take advantage. Parents who have a choice will try to choose the best school for their children. A competition between schools may occur, where teachers will have to improve in their teaching to draw in or keep students in their school. It will become important for schools to have parents choose them, so the quality of the education may increase.

The Controversy.

Vouchers may be used for schools that are public or private, religious or non-religious. Of the private schools, 85% are religiously affiliated. This brings up the issue of how constitutional vouchers are. There has been a separation of church and state for decades, yet with these vouchers, the state is allowing funding to go to religiously affiliated schools. Should the state allow funding to go toward something it has been trying to separate itself from or should the state just turn the other cheek and focus on the advantages it will be giving the students?

What Do You Think?

It seems as though school vouchers are supposed to mean well, but financially advantaged families still have the upper hand. It does not seem to be creating equal education for all students, but it does give low income families more of chance to send their children to a better school than they had before. Students will achieve in any school situation as long as the quality of education is valued. Public or private, everyone should have a choice, but it does not seem as though the choices are on equal terms.