Understanding the Voucher Education Program
11/23/2016 by Dylan James Harper
Trump’s cabinet picks have a preverbal clown car of regressive individuals. Betsy DeVos, his pick for Education Secretary, keeps with that trend. The main point of concern that educators are already voicing is the obsession she’s had with “voucher” programs throughout her entire career in politics, which has the subtle but central goal of uprooting the public education system.
The voucher system works by assessing how much money it costs for a student to go to a school. For the sake of explaining the system, let’s use a theoretical number (this figure would change based on the state), say $50,000. If it cost $50,000 to go to public school, alternatively, parents can decide to take a voucher and use that money to go to a charter school, or a private school, meaning it would pull that $50,000 out of publics schools.
The argument in favor of a voucher program is that the competition between schools to keep students (and the $50,000 per student) in that school. There are two problems with this, however. First, the schools that lose students have an increasingly difficult time improving because their funding is cut. This is very similar to the problem with No Child Left Behind. Second, is the students that tend to utilize vouchers are students that already have the most opportunity. Students that tend to remain in lower performing schools are the most vulnerable. For the questioning why those students don’t just take their vouchers and leave, it’s often because of geography. Most students who attend under performing schools aren’t in a position to commute long distances to better schools. Some argue that it will make private schools more affordable, but that won’t be the case. Private schools can (and will) just raise their tuition because they know the money is guaranteed. Betsy DeVos is a nightmare for education. Common Core is far from perfect, but it is a clear step up from No Child Left Behind. DeVos’ policy ideas regarding a voucher program would be a return to the worst aspects of NCLB, and they would likely be more difficult to reverse. The question now is whether the democrats make the same mistakes they made under Bush and willingly let that happen.
Dylan James Harper is Chief Political Editor of CSuiteMusic.com
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