I noticed some remarks today on the Kindleboards about vouchers and education and the public school system. It’s an interesting, vital, and inflammatory topic. It tends to quickly polarize people. To be honest, I haven’t read much of the learned analysis written on both sides of the argument. I’m sure both have excellent lines of reasoning. I have read, though, of many examples of the results of voucher systems. Also, my wife taught for a while in several local public schools. So, of course, I’ve got an opinion.
Hey, when did I not have an opinion on something?
Obviously, it’s not a simple issue due to the quality differences there are from state to state, county to county, and district to district. I imagine there are probably a great many fine public schools out there. They do not exist in my part of California. It’s a shame, because I know a lot of public school teachers who are well-trained, love their jobs, and are dedicated to their students. One of the problems is that the system is stacked against them. Here in California, the public school system is focused more on money rather than students. And more money doesn’t automatically result in better-educated students.
In fact, our schools here seem designed to enable kids to slip on through with a minimum of education, jealously shielding them from learning. The one thing the California public school system does do well, however, is teaching kids how to take assessment tests. They take lots of ’em. Scads. Hordes. That way, the public school bureaucrats can see how a school is doing in teaching kids how to take tests. Also, that’s how they figure out where the money should flow.
One of the problems with this is that knowing how to take tests isn’t a skill that means much later on in life. Unless you’re going to get a job as a bureaucrat in the California public school system and spend your days creating tests.
Anyway, it’s a pity that kids can’t focus more on learning how to read, analyze, write, and do math without a calculator. They know a lot about Snoop Dogg and Katy Perry, but they might have issues with long division. That brings us around to vouchers.
I’m mostly all for vouchers. If a parent can get their kid into some kind of private school or a home school setting that they think will get their kid a better education, more power to them. And if they do, there’s no reason the government shouldn’t write a check to them for the chunk of tax money the government would’ve spent on that kid in a public school. No reason except for the fact that there are a lot of public school bureaucrats who probably don’t want to lose that money.
I said mostly in favor of vouchers because I think there’s a better way than vouchers. I think if a parent has their child enrolled somewhere else than the public school, then they shouldn’t get a voucher. Instead, they should simply get a tax exemption. Why should Mr. Jones be still paying taxes for public school when his kid is going to a private school? I see a slight difference between an exemption and a voucher. Vouchers can be controlled by the government: you can spend if on this kind of education, but you can’t spend it on that kind of education. A tax exemption wouldn’t have strings. It would just be a tax exemption.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty clear the free market can handle education a lot better than public schooling, despite all the wonderful, dedicated teachers you can find in public schools.