School Vouchers

SCHOOL VOUCHERS….Credit where it’s due: this is a thorough and righteous demolition of the anti-voucher forces.

And yet, despite its thoroughness, it somehow fails to address the single biggest problem with school vouchers: oversight. If you’re going to receive taxpayer dollars, then you have to agree to taxpayer oversight. That means that NCLB applies to you. It means that minimum state curriculum requirements apply to you. It means that teacher union rules apply to you. It means you have a lot less authority to pick and choose which kids you’re willing to accept. And, yes, it means you can’t use taxpayer money to proselytize for whichever religion your board of directors happens to favor. Like it or not, that’s a no-no for public funds, especially when kids are involved.

But as near as I can tell, this is anathema to people who run private schools. They won’t accept any oversight, let alone the level of oversight that’s inevitable with any widespread voucher program. Taxpayers simply aren’t willing to shower money on anything that calls itself a school without having some say in how the money is used. And rightly so.

Roughly speaking, this is why I tentatively favor charter schools but not voucher schemes. Charter schools allow for experimentation, which is good, but also accept state oversight. I don’t really see how things can work any other way.

UPDATE: A couple of emails have convinced me that I screwed up the introduction to this post. For the record: I didn’t mean to imply that the linked post successfully argued in favor of vouchers. Far from it. I just wanted to point out that even though it was long and passionate, it mysteriously failed to address the one argument against vouchers that I think is the strongest. Funny how often that happens, isn’t it?

Sorry for the confusion.

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