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An Examination of School Vouchers

Bryce Benefield

Let me paint a picture for you to clear up some misunderstandings about human equality of opportunity: education. Recently, I have read and heard invalid arguments against voucher based educational finance.

First, let me describe how we currently finance education. We mandate that the county or state governments fund facilities, hire educators under strictly regulated contractual agreements and implement a federally-filtered curriculum under the auspices of getting a federal No Child Left Behind waiver and some federal money.

A previous editorial published by Maddi O’Neill in ythe Voice asserted that a voucher system would be detrimental to educational financing because low-income children will be left behind in schools devoid of those funds. This is a misconception about the system, of which the author presumed that some children are to be denied a voucher while others recieve them. The voucher systems are implemented as supplements to our current district based county-state and federal regulatory financing structure. The author claimed that this system, without proper consolidation, indiscriminately waves some children out of their public schools while taking those funds from the school, and would be harmful to those kids stuck without consent to leave.

This is what the previous Voice article discussed as the false premise of this being a legitimate voucher program. It’s not because it’s administered discriminately.  A true voucher program takes into account several all important circumstances.

First, the states should be allowed to administer education freely without direct federal intervention.

Second, the states must be allowed to supplement the actual education of children with the equivalent financing thereof.

Third, if a state so chooses, it can opt to discontinue the financing of district based institutions directly.

Fourth, private institutions are allowed to educate freely and regulate themselves freely (in adherence with common law).

Fifth, children of all income levels receive the same amount unless they opt out of the money, in which case that money is redistributed back to every other child’s voucher.

Lastly, each child’s legal guardian  already has the right to place their child into another institution as they see fit for that child’s needs that accepts vouchers (which are redeemable for cash so each child is equitably valuable to an institution), which empowers that institution to make it economically reasonable to further educate that child.

Now, let me outline a hypothetical situation that the voucher system allows for. Imagine a group of young and intelligent educators moving to the Bronx after New York passed the voucher system. You find that some parents have kept their children in a public school, and some parents are looking for better options, now having the means to pay for them. However, this still means that the public schools will have more money per student then ever before.

While at the same time, it provides more authority directly into the school itself as to who comes and goes on staff, how much to pay staff, what medium of education to invest in and what resources to best engage children. Under the current system, you and your friends must get in line to teach almost the exact same curriculum. Under the voucher system, any Wooster graduate or otherwise qualified individual who can do a better job teaching will be rewarded with the financial compensation designated by the state for those specific children you’re educating. It ends the monopoly that these terrible district schools have on educating children from lower income families.

 

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