Monday, March 29, 2010

Why I Oppose School Vouchers

I've been discussing school vouchers with a former classmate. He thinks that parents should be given the state dollars for their children's education to spend as they see fit (full tuition for public school, part-tuition for private school, or home-schooling.)

I agree with him that schools need to be improved. But I disagree that school vouchers will improve anything, except possibly the cashflow of parents who already have their children enrolled in private schools.

We both read a report that featured the voucher experiment in New Zealand.

I read it as a study of the problems resulting from the experiment. He read it as a study of successes.

I'm hoping for useful comments.

My stand on schools is that smaller class size results in better learning.
If dollars that would have gone to public schools are redirected to private schools, then public schools have less money and therefore fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

I also believe that schools should concentrate on teaching children how to learn, rather than teaching to the test. Put anything you want on the test. Then give the kids access to a library and the internet, and laboratory equipment and tools so they can discover / develop the answers.

The one positive result I've read about from vouchers is that middle class families can afford to send their children to private schools if their tuition is subsidized by the voucher money.

I'd rather see children of all cultures and income levels learning together. One of the functions of school is socialization. If children only learn to socialize with others of their own income bracket, they are missing out on a major opportunity to understand their world.

My former classmate thinks I'm being anti-rich. He and I both went to the same public school. How did we learn such different things? Our answers can be tested. And I think they have been tested in the New Zealand schools. Apparently these results are not definitive. What more is needed?

We all want better schools. We want the next generation to increase prosperity for all, and keep the lights on.


  1. Vouchers would mean the final death blow to the public school system. Many public schools are getting better and better. Due to the recession, many families can no longer afford private schools and have brought their children back to public education. The schools have greatly benefitted from this infusion of "good" students.

    Public schools budgets are suffering; on the brink of bankruptcy. We all pay one way or another.

  2. Sharyn, that's a wonderful insight! Thank you for posting.