School Vouchers Essay

Submitted By Elizabeth-Sanchez
Words: 2245
Pages: 9

School vouchers: Are they effective or damaging? During the 1950s, Noble Prize winning libertarian economist, Milton Friedman, made the first proposal for American education to include a voucher system. However, it was not until the 1980’s when the nation’s first school choice voucher program came into effect, which was passed by the legislature of Wisconsin, and provided parents the opportunity to choose the school where they felt was appropriate for their child. The Friedman Foundation defined the notion of school choice in two parts:
(1)…a common sense idea that gives all parents the power and freedom to choose their child’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools and other institutions to better serve students’ needs and priorities, [and] (2) a public policy that allows a parent/guardian or student to choose a district, charter, or private school, regardless of residence and location (www.edchoice.org).
While the idea of school choice seems fitting and beneficial, especially to students who come from low-income families, there are many lies, dangers and threats seamed within the idea. School vouchers not only pose a serious danger to students and to the system of public education, but they also violate the separation between church and state. Beneficial…to an extent On its website, The Friedman Foundation provides an explanation to the significance and objective of school vouchers:
Vouchers give parents the freedom to choose a private school for their children, using all or part of the public funding set aside for their children’s education. Under such a program, funds typically expended by a school district would be allocated to a participating family in the form of a voucher to pay partial or full tuition for their child’s private school, including both religious and non-religious options (www.edchoice.org).
In a nutshell, vouchers are monies given to students in order to attend a school of their choice. The first sentence of the foundation’s explanation lays out the first benefit gained from the voucher program. What incites people to the idea of the voucher system is the opportunity that is given to low-income families to send their children off to an elite private school. While many are blinded by this aspiring opportunity, others, like Barbara Miner, look beyond the sugarcoated promises made by voucher programs. In her article, “Why I Don’t Vouch For Vouchers,” Miner makes a very interesting point by saying, “Private schools can control whom they accept and the terms upon which students stay enrolled. […] The schools are to select on a random basis, […] one problem, however, is enforcement. Who ensures that the rules are followed?” (1998). Parents do not realize that, although they are promised to be provided a better education for their children, they are never guaranteed that the child will be accepted to the school they choose, or whether they will succeed in a private school rather than in a public school. Yet again, Miner makes another thought-provoking point in questioning the furthering of segregation in schools through the voucher system. To provide an answer to this question she points out some statistics from a school in Milwaukee:
In Milwaukee, the public schools are approximately 60 percent African American. At Divine Savior/Holy Angels and Pius XIth High Schools, only 3 percent of the students are African American. At Milwaukee’s most elite religious high school, Marquette University High School, 5 percent of the students are African American. Some religious elementary schools in Milwaukee do not have any African American students (Miner, 1998).
Whether these numbers may just be sheer coincidence or intentional, the idea of providing vouchers to parents as a means of reserving the best possible education for their children do not come with a guarantee that the school they choose will be a safe haven and far better than public schooling. Another benefit gained…