There is evidence to show that a private school education can be more effective for students than a public school education. The only problem is that not every household has the ability to afford a private education at today’s prices. That’s why the school voucher system was created. It gives parents a “scholarship” to help pay for private school costs. Should governing bodies be allowed to pay parents to send their children to a private school? Here is a look at some key pros and cons of a school voucher system.
What Are the Pros of a School Voucher System?
1. It gives parents a second choice of schooling.
Many public schools will assign households to a specific school based on where the family lives. This limits the choices of which school a student may attend and this can be problematic in low-income areas where educational opportunities are few. The school voucher program gives families the chance to see if there are alternative schools within their region that could be better than their assigned school.
2. It’s a chance to lure the best students to the best schools within a region.
Not every school has access to the same resources of every other school. This means that the educational opportunities at some schools can be lacking. All students deserve the best possible education they can receive, which means the best students can find a school that is better adapted to meet their needs.
3. It’s a way to teach specific concepts outside of the public school system.
Subjects like morality, religion, and ethics are not always taught in public schools. Sometimes parents may disagree with how these subjects are taught. A system of school vouchers allows parents to find schools that match up with their own values so that their children can receive instruction based in the areas that they feel are personally important.
4. It eliminates the controversy.
If parents want to have their children have prayer in schools or read religious books, then a school voucher system can help them choose this. If parents want to have a clear separation of certain subjects, then a voucher system can help them select an appropriate school as well. In doing so, no child gets left behind because schools can be selected based on needs instead of location.
What Are the Cons of a School Voucher System?
1. It may eliminate the barrier between the church and state in the US.
Most private schools are run by religious organizations. Those that are not typically have a religious affiliation. By providing school vouchers to households, this may be viewed as a state sponsorship of certain religions at the expense of others. It means that taxpayer money could be going to religious indoctrination.
2. Private schools don’t always have to account for money spent.
Private schools actually have the ability to create discriminatory environments within their classroom structures based on specific criteria that are outlined at admission. Students can be rejected for not having the same religion, social skills, or even because they are poor. Even with a school voucher system in place, there is no need to change these tactics for admission.
3. School vouchers may not improve academic performance.
Students who have been offered a voucher and received a private education over the course of 4 years have shown no statistically relevant improvement in their grades when compared to their performance in public school. Student/teacher ratios tend to be similar in private schools as well, which means the main cost of the voucher is going to support the fact that the school is simply “private.”
4. Parents lose a say in how their children are educated.
Teachers at a private school will teach based on the philosophies that are supported by the affiliations of the school. That might mean New Earth Creationism is taught and evolution ignored. It could mean that children watch videos all day for learning instead of receiving 1-on-1 help with tasks. Because the school is private, parents can complain about the curriculum or move their voucher elsewhere, but that’s about all they can do.
A System of Accountability is Required
The pros and cons of a school voucher system show that a system of accountability is necessary to make them practical. If this can be instituted, then there are some good things that could happen for some families. As long as all the cons are weighed as well, a balanced and comprehensive schooling system can be instituted.