18 June, 2016
- Other term: school voucher
- This is a certificate indicating parents are given the ability to pay for the education of their children at a school of their choice, rather than the public school to which they were assigned.
Those who support school voucher argue that they should be allowed to spend their tax dollars at the educational facility of their choosing, letting parents to be able to select which school they want their children to attend.
They assert that implementing a voucher system would promote competition among schools of all types. The logic of such capitalist competition, proponents say, would be a greater incentive to improve the education system as efficiently as possible. Poorly performing schools would face closure unless they enhance themselves, thereby drawing more students and funding. Those schools that best used their resources to educate would theoretically attract more students. In that way, accountability would be localized and not imposed by government standards.
Furthermore, it is noted that school vouchers allow for a greater possibility of economic diversity because the poor—under that system—can attend private schools that were previously inaccessible.
Some studies favor the hypothesis of reduced racial and economic segregation through the abolishment of territorial-based school allocation in the public monopoly system (where students are assigned to schools according to territory, thus dividing students between richer and poorer neighborhoods), as well as greater free choice and quality improvement by forcing schools to compete among themselves by offering more diverse and interesting programs.
Critics of the voucher system note that, in some systems, it is probable to have choice between schools within the public school system without vouchers.
Moreover, the choice exercised by parents within the voucher system often results in the selection of a religious school, so that public funds are given to a religious institution. Theoretically, a religious school that promotes extremism could be eligible to accept taxpayer funded vouchers. However, most legislation on vouchers would include a provision that public money may only be spent on education, not other religious activities.
Many argue that given the limited budget for schools, a voucher system weakens public schools while providing enough money for people to attend private schools.
In addition, the vouchers are equal to providing taxpayer-subsidized white flight from urban public schools, whose student bodies are predominantly non-white in most large cities. Interestingly, some fundamentalist groups side with liberals in opposition to school vouchers, albeit on different grounds. The general fundamentalist opposition is based on the source of the vouchers, which would be the government. Fundamentalists (who strongly oppose any government oversight of their operations) state that, if a church-run school receives a government voucher, they have thus allowed the government the “right” to dictate the school’s operation and, by extension, the church’s operation as well. Therefore, the government could order the church to halt speaking against practices such as abortion, since it now “controls” the church through its acceptance of government funds. Other liberals believe it is unconstitutional to offer government funding for church-run schools as it encourages the state sponsoring religion.
Furthermore, criticism comes from various rich and poor people, assuming their vouchers will actually meet their taxes. Poor people believe that their vouchers will be insignificant to schools and so selectivity in private schools will tend to be more biased against them, rendering their children with increasingly deteriorating classmates and hence a slower learning curve ending in below average performance.