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The Voucher System Essay, Research Paper

The Voucher System

Tax-funded vouchers are prospective statewide systems that are highly disputed among politicians and anyone with school-aged children. The main idea of the voucher system is that parents or guardians choose the school that they want their children to attend, with hopes that good schools will thrive, and bad schools will either improve or lose so many students that they will be forced to close down. Keeping this definition in mind, politicians initiated tax-funded voucher programs in Milwaukee and Cleveland to force public schools to shape up or ship out. A few studies have been released on the progress of the voucher system in these cities. These studies are being used as future references toward a nationwide (for political purposes) or statewide (for family purposes) voucher system. In 1990 the city of Milwaukee allowed 1,500 low-income families to receive almost $5,000 per student to attend a private school for one year. The demand for school choice was so great that later, in 1995, Milwaukee allowed 15,000 students to attend their choice of either private or church-related school and still be given approximately the same amount of money per year. One study of the Milwaukee voucher system suggested that over 4,300 children were given half the money needed to attend a private school during 1995; only 2,000 of these students came from low-income families, the remaining 2,300 students didn t need the financial assistance but took it anyway. Similar studies have been performed in Cleveland with comparable results.

People who agree with having the option to send their children to whatever school they choose are not taking many different things into consideration. For instance, researchers say that there is a possibility of students being sorted according to their family income, race, and religion, which drastically cuts down the diversity among American students. Second, it is likely that there would be an overcrowding of private schools, leaving some good public school teachers unemployed and leaving inexperienced teachers, already employed in public schools, to attend to students with special problems. Third, parents with children who were expelled in public schools may be looking for a last resort where they might send their children; these troublesome children could cause higher rates of crime in private schools. For students that live outside of the chosen school district, there is the problem of busing. For low-income families this is not only a hassle but also a financial burden.

The dilemma of the voucher system also raises the issue of separation of church and state, since most private schools are church affiliated. Then most of our tax money would be going to churches, which the U.S. Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional.

And finally, another dilemma is taxpayers would be billed over $5,000 per student for one year at a private school, when in actuality it would be cheaper to increase what public schools already receive to help the public schools teach their students better. With all of these negatives to take into consideration, I believe that school choice should not be put into action countrywide.

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