Parents and educational advocates, who support school choice, believe that school vouchers are just another option to help disadvantaged students receive a first-class education. Voucher programs allow parents to use monetary vouchers from the city, state or federal government to pay for their child’s private school education. The amount of the voucher is generally about the same amount that is granted to public schools for each child’s educational needs.
School voucher proponents insist that is a viable solution for students, who are stuck in a low performing school. According to voucher advocates, voucher recipients are more likely to graduate from high school compare to their public school counterparts. A greater majority of these kids graduate college and career ready. They are academically capable to handle college-level work, and have the requisite work-based skills to clinch an entry-level job.
On paper, vouchers appear to be the solution to our educational problems. But, like all reform initiatives, this program has its limitations.
Voucher recipients are not guaranteed admittance to a private school. Private schools, which accept vouchers, still require all students to meet their admission requirements. Kids, who do not measure up academically or behaviorally, are typically not accepted. In most cases, special education children, truants, and academically “mid-of- the road” students are typically denied admission to most private K-12 school systems.
It is possible that 80 percent of our public school kids will never benefit from a voucher program.
This program can also be very costly for many families. School vouchers only cover the school’s tuition payment. Any additional school fees such as textbooks and transportation costs are the parent’s responsibility. Remember, that most voucher programs are targeted at low-income families. These additional expenses can be a significant financial burden for them. And, it can also deter many of these parents from enrolling their child in a voucher program.
For voucher programs to be effective, policymakers need to address these issues, and consider expanding the program’s reach to include publicly operated schools. Currently, students can only use their vouchers to attend private schools.
However, not all private schools are great schools. There are actually a number of high performing public schools that are more innovative and rigorous. It would be great if kids could be allowed to use their voucher to attend these schools. The voucher would cover the out of district fees. Since these schools are public, all students would be granted admission. It is a win-win situation for all students.