It’s no surprise that parents want their children to have as many educational opportunities as possible. Good education opportunities often lead to more rewarding careers. When it comes to school voucher programs, many parents don’t care about anything other than whether the programs can offer better opportunities than public school.
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The Advantage of Voucher Schools
From a theoretical perspective voucher schools make sense. By allowing private schools to compete with each other, educational opportunities should improve in an area. The best schools will attract more students and money. They will, therefore, win in the marketplace of ideas and have a positive effect on other schools.
The Disadvantages of Voucher Schools
Unfortunately, each private school can only accept a certain number of students each year. It only makes sense, then, that they choose the best and brightest students in the area. Without the best students, the schools wouldn’t look successful, which would mean fewer parents would want to send their kids there.
By funneling public money towards private schools, local governments make it impossible to fund public education systems that accept all students, regardless of how well they perform. A public school, therefore, might have lower test scores than a voucher school. That’s not necessarily because the public school offers an inferior program, but rather because the voucher school has taken the best students.
A Terrible Divide
This creates a divide between students by giving the best opportunities to children that perform well at a young age and essentially giving up on those that do not show the same level of promise.
The question, therefore, becomes not whether voucher schools can benefit students, but rather which students they can help. If your kid doesn’t fall into the elite category, then she will have fewer opportunities to succeed. That doesn’t sound so great for students or communities.