Vouchers and school choiceEdit
- Voucher funding systems
- In July 2006, the Bush Administration and Republican Members of Congress proposed a $100 million "opportunity scholarship" program which would provide 28,000 students with up to $4000 each to attend private schools. (Washington Post Article / Bills (109th Congress): S3682, HR5822)
- Religious or not?
- Blaine Amendments - Amendments or provisions that exist in most state constitutions in the United States that forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have any religious affiliation.
- Court precedent
- Zelman_v._Simmons-Harris - 2002 Supreme Court ruling on permissibility of vouchers.
School vouchers essentially give a parent a choice where they want to educate their child. Instead of being stuck with one school, parents would have a range of options.
Vouchers are controversial.
Maine Voucher System Edit
Since 1873 Maine has financed the education of thousands of kindergarten through 12th grade students in private schools. Data from the Maine Department of Education suggest that the tuition program costs roughly $6,000 per student, or 20 percent less than Maine's average per pupil expenditure for public education. 
The case FOR school vouchersEdit
The case for vouchers seems to center around the following themes:
- competition will force public schools to be better
- parents and families have a better idea what type of education will best serve their child
- students learn differently, and may do better at different schools
- It would cost less  but provide the same, or better, education.
The case AGAINST school vouchersEdit
The case against vouchers seems to be centered around the following themes:
- many non-public schools are religious, thus breaking the church/state rule.
- non-private schools may use different assessment instruments, thus creating difficulty in measuring effectiveness.
- social equity: who gets the vouchers?
- limited funds: Redirecting tax dollars to vouchers undermines existing Public school budgets. This results in school closings, longer bus rides and higher pupil to teacher ratios.
The case against vouchers got a boost in July 2006 when a report comparing public and private school performance showed that public schools perform as well as private schools in almost any category, once results are controlled for factors such as race and poverty. (Report from the National Center for Education Statistics)
Re: The case AGAINST school vouchers Edit
- The exact wording of the first amendment is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" Allowing parents to send their children to religious private educational institutions with the tax dollars that they themselves put into the system is not unconstitutional.
- It would be a simple matter to require set standards to receive public funds, as happens in many sectors such as scientific and medical research.
- All parents who wish to get vouchers for the education of their children should get the vouchers.
- Public schools that do the job properly would get the vouchers, those that fail would close due to competition with the private schools. Some schools would close, bus rides may become cut out entirely (saving money) if enough parents use the vouchers, and pupil to teacher ratios are inconsequential if the goal of education is succeeding.
Issue Discussion: Vouchers and school choiceEdit
- I have a concern with using the Maine system as an example. If it only costs the state about $6000 per student, and students are getting to go to elite private schools that cost much more than this, could the system be scaled up? If suddenly every child in Maine got $6000, would the private schools either have to lower their spending or refuse the voucher? It seems like some children in Maine are just lucky to be subsidized by the wealthy who are sending their kids their for boarding school. --Jafree 13:55, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
- Private schools cost less than public schools  Midian 15:43, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Should 65% of all education funds be spent directly on classroom instruction? This is the argument in many states, where legislation or ballot initiatives have been introduced to make this the law.
First Class Education is a think-tank founded by Dr. Patrick Byrne, founder of Overstock.com. This group is promoting the 65% solution in initiatives nationwide.
Issue Discussion: 65% ruleEdit
The problem with the 65% rule is the problem with all "rules". They limit the flexibility of decision-makers and often have unintended consequences. Everyone thinks that more money should go to classrooms, and everyone hates wasting money on bureaucracy. But rigid rules often backfire. This could have similar consequences to California's famous property tax limitations via Proposition 13.--Jafree 19:15, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Supplemental Education ServicesEdit
When schools fail, how should government support remediation?