In the recent years, school voucher program has become the central point of discussion among the educationists inspiring the scholars to forward their views regarding this topic. The pro vouchers scholars suggest that school vouchers provide greater opportunity for the poor parents to send their children to the private schools.
The anti voucher scholars argue that voucher system has contradicted the American values and there is no guarantee that it would improve American education standard. The study of the factual information and the arguments indicate that school vouchers in any way do not help the American education system.
School vouchers refer to the attempt made by the government to provide financial help to the students in order to assist them to pay fees when they take admission in the private schools. The debate concerning the school voucher system has resulted in the emergence of two groups of scholars who either supported or opposed this system. (Boaz and Barrett)
The pro-school vouchers argue that it would provide an opportunity to the poor parents to send their children to the private schools so that they would be able to improve their education standard. This is applicable particularly in the case of Black parents who tend to suffer from financial problems compelling them to send their children to the government managed schools where there is no guarantee that the students would be given excellent education. (Boaz and Barrett)
The anti-school voucher scholars, on the other hand, suggest that with the meager amount of $3000 it is not possible to completely finance the education of the children. However, the pro school vouchers suggest that there are private schools which charge fees that are lesser than $3000. (Boaz and Barrett)
The scholars argue that the American schools have been managed by bureaucratic and monopolistic system which has resulted in the failure of the American education system. It is true that some schools have been able to exhibit excellent results due to the appropriate educational policy followed by the school management. However, most of these schools are private schools, managed by the people who are not controlled by the government administration. (Boaz and Barrett)
It is not possible for all the income groups to attend the private schools as it involves huge expenditure which cannot be borne by the poor parents. This argument has been used by the pro school vouchers scholars to suggest that school vouchers should be encouraged and provided to all the parents as it provides another option to them to improve the standard of education of their children. It has been argued by these scholars that the government schools have failed in America as they are managed on the basis of various socialistic principles.
This has considerably reduced the educational standard of the government schools.(Boaz and Barrett)
The scholars who opposed school vouchers, in principle, accept the fact that it is important to improve the education standard of the American schools. However, they do not agree that the school vouchers could be an ideal solution for this problem. They argue that school vouchers are against the American values such as separation of the church and the state. This would imply that the school vouchers would contradict the provisions of the constitution. (ADL)
The American citizens are given the religious freedom. They cannot be compelled to pay for the propagation of a particular religion. Through vouchers attempt has been made to compel the people to give donation to the religious institutions. This argument suggests that most of the schools are managed by the religious institutions which believe in propagating their religious ideology. Their policy may not be liked by all the members in the society. Therefore voucher system, according to some scholars, is anti constitutional. (ADL)
There is a need for the review of provisions of the constitution in order to assess the real constitutionality of the voucher system. Vouchers also would lead to the decline of the public schools system which has believed in the policy of providing education to all American children irrespective of their religion and gender. However, by implementing school vouchers, an attempt has been made to replace the public schools by the private schools. This has resulted in the discrimination of the students based on their religion. (ADL)
In the private schools, one can notice that greatest importance is given to religion of the students. In such a system, it is difficult to expect that all the American children would be able to receive uniform treatment in these schools. (ADL)
Although the courts have upheld vouchers, they have suggested that the parents should be given the freedom to choose the schools. This implies that the parents cannot be compelled to send their children only to the private schools managed by the religious groups. Public school system is required for America as public schools would be able to achieve unity of Americans who belong to different cultures. On the other private school system may not lead to unity among the diverse American groups. (ADL)
The Supreme Court decision to upheld Cleveland school voucher system has been compared by the President Bush to Brown v. Board of Education. This shows that Bush has been vehemently supporting the voucher programs in different states. However, the president has not announced any radical measure to make the Cleveland voucher program a great success. This has resulted in the destruction of the public school system which provided real freedom to the parents. (Jackson)
However, there has been real segregation between the schools that charge heavy fees and the schools managed by the religious groups that charge lower fees. The parents can send their children to the schools that charge lower fees. In some places, the schools charge $15000 which cannot be afforded by ordinary parents.(Jackson)
In the region of Cleveland the poor parents are not able to send their children to any private schools because the vouchers provide limited amount of $2500. This has compelled Black parents to send their children to the schools managed by the religious institutions. Black parents are not aware of the fact that they are indirectly contributing to the demise of the public education system by accepting the vouchers and by sending their children to schools that preach religion to the students. This school voucher system has not allowed the parents to send their children to expensive private schools. This implies that there is a need for greater effort on the part of the Bush administration to encourage the poor parents to send the children to high standard private schools. (Jackson)
The data also reveals that majority students have been attending the public schools. In Cleveland only one out of every twenty students has been using the voucher program. In Cleveland, most of the voucher students are compelled to take admission in the schools that are managed by the religious institutions. (Jackson)
In the case of the Boston Public schools the suburban systems have initiated the METCO program in order to give priority to the students of public schools. However, due to lack of funding, the authorities are not able to completely implement this program. The government has failed to provide proper leadership in the education arena because the government has rejected increased funding to the public schools. (Jackson)
The attempt made by the states such as California, Oregon, and Washington to introduce voucher program has failed due to political obstacles. However, many states have showed interest in introducing the public funded charter schools which have been considered as the answer to the problems created by the public school monopoly and domination of the public school teachers. (Henderson)
Voucher programs have been introduced in the states such as Cleveland only after the parents approached the courts. In Milwaukee region, nearly 2000 students have been obtaining vouchers. Many other states have also showed interest in providing assistance to the low income group students. These details show that different states have introduced voucher programs or other programs in order to help the low income groups to improve their education standard. However, the scholars have argued that vouchers have differentiated between low income group students and other students. (Henderson)
Some scholars argue that vouchers should not be limited only to a particular social and economic group as it is important to give opportunity to all the American students to obtain admission in the private schools. (Henderson)
It is also suggested that through voucher programs it is possible to break the monopoly of the public school teachers. However, at the same time one needs to remember that public schools have been receiving less funding which has been responsible for their poor performance. (Henderson)
The Cleveland voucher case decision given by the Supreme Court does not mean that voucher system is constitutional because the Supreme Court has not accepted the argument that the parents could use the vouchers to send their children only to the private schools. This implies that the parents have the option to send their children to any school. Some states have strong laws which prohibit funding of the religious institutions out of the tax payer’s money. In such states, voucher programs lose their constitutional validity. (Myth v. Fact)
There is no guarantee that majority of the people have been supporting voucher programs. For instance, the voucher programs have been opposed by the voters in the regions such as California, Michigan, Colorado, and Washington. Only few states have implemented voucher program leading to several court cases. (Myth v. Fact)
Vouchers may not guarantee the right of the parents to send their children to any private school because the private schools have the right to reject the admission of any students without citing any reason. It has been argued that vouchers would lead to improvement in the public schools’ performance as vouchers lead to competition between public schools and private schools. However, this is not correct because public schools cannot reject admission of any student while the private schools are not expected to follow the rules that govern the public schools. (Myth v. Fact)
The pro voucher scholars have been arguing that the public schools have failed to produce highly qualified students who can compete with the students of other countries. However, it is found that American students are considered as one of the best among the students of various countries indicating that the public schools have been able to produce highly qualified students. (Myth v. Fact)
Voucher programs can harm the public schools as the latter may not obtain the funding that is required for their survival. It is not possible to limit voucher programs to only a few private schools as this would be challenged in the courts based on the religious discrimination clause as mentioned in the US constitution. (Myth v. Fact)
Recently, the American Senate has taken an important decision concerning the voucher program. It has been decided by the Senators not to extend voucher program to the Katrina victims. Earlier some politicians, taking advantage of the hurricane effects, had implemented the voucher program. However, the current decision taken by the Senate has clarified the position of the members of the Senate. (Potter)
It has been decided to divert the voucher funds to the public schools. The private schools would not obtain direct funding as they would receive funds as a part of the services provided by the public schools. This shows that the senators have taken a welcome decision of supporting the public schools. This policy is likely to increase the education standard in the public schools. Naturally, this decision has been welcomed by the association of the public school teachers who earlier complained that voucher programs had dried funding to the public schools leading to discrimination between the public and private schools. (Potter)
The public schools have been provided with the opportunity to improve their performance. This would increase the popularity of the public schools. This decision taken by the Senate can be considered as a major breakthrough in the debate between pro voucher scholars and anti voucher scholars. (Potter)
Teachers, parents and other members of the American society have always expressed their dissatisfaction with the voucher system. They have opposed the diversion of the public school funds to the private school on the pretext of providing financial assistance to the low income group parents. (Vouchers)
The National Education Association, a teacher’s union representing the interest of the public school teachers has initiated programs to improve the teaching standard of the public schools so that it is possible for them to defend the public school system and oppose all attempts to find alternative methods such as vouchers. It is the contention of this association that vouchers do not lead to improvement in the education standard as there is no guarantee that the low income group students would be able to obtain admission in the top private schools. The teacher’s association believes that the teachers and students of public schools need the support of the government and the public. By introducing vouchers, the government would create two different education categories which amount to discrimination among the students. Based on this argument, vouchers have been opposed by the association of the public schools. (Vouchers)
The government needs to take the teachers’ association into confidence while introducing reforms in the education system. The government needs the cooperation of large number of teachers who work in the public schools. By threatening the position of the public school teachers, it is not possible to enhance the education standard in the schools.
The pro voucher scholars and activists try to convince the tax payers by stating that all the parents obtain the opportunity to send their children to the private schools. However, it has been argued that this program does not help even the private schools as it would lead to increased control of the private schools by the government authorities. This may not be liked by the management of the private schools and people who send their children to the private schools.
This argument shows that voucher is bad for public as well as private schools. (School Vouchers)
If the private schools accept the government money, it may result in the government interference in the activities of the private schools. This would imply that the private schools may lose their autonomy which they enjoyed during the pre voucher days. This will also increase the burden of the public schools as they would be forced to accept all the students who are rejected by the private schools. (School Vouchers)
When the private schools accept public money, then they will lose their status of independent schools. This shows that vouchers may not help even the private schools. This can be considered as an important reason to fight against the voucher programs being supported by the government authorities. (School Vouchers)
Despite the fact that both the government and the Supreme Court have supported the vouchers, the various state governments have been reluctant to implement vouchers in their respective states. The main reason for this attitude is that they are not allowed, according their constitutional provisions, to introduce any measure that would amount to supporting a particular religious group. (Sanchez)
Many state legislatures have refused to support voucher programs based on the Blaine amendments which restrict the legislatures from supporting any particular religious group. This legislation was introduced in order to curb the tendency to support the catholic institutions. This shows that only few states, which do not suffer from Blaine amendments, have been able to implement voucher program. This has resulted in the differentiation between the states such as Ohio where vouchers have been introduced and those states where it is not legally permissible to introduce voucher programs. This indicates that one cannot assure that voucher program is constitutional. (Peterson)
In order to avoid legal complications, the states are trying to find alternative methods of assisting the low income parents in order to help them to send their children to private schools. (Peterson)
The government needs to clarify constitutionality of the vouchers. It is important to respond to the feelings of the tax payers who are expected to pay a part of their earnings to the low income group parents in order to send their children to the private schools.
In the case of Florida, the Supreme Court has ruled that vouchers cannot be introduced in this state as the constitutional provisions do not permit the implementation of school voucher system in this region. This clearly indicates that in some states it is not possible to introduce voucher system. (Sanchez) The Florida case shows that the decision in the case of Ohio may not be repeated in the case of all the states.
The above study has showed that many scholars have vehemently criticized the school vouchers and suggested that it would hurt the public schools as it would lead to diversion of the government fund to the private schools. It is also found that school vouchers support particular religious groups and this can be considered as unconstitutional. The vouchers may not allow the parents to obtain admission for their children in the top private schools. Therefore, it is important to increase the funding of public schools instead of blaming the public schools for their low performance when compared to the private schools. These details clearly indicate that the government needs to find alternative methods of helping the low income groups instead of depending on the vouchers. It is practically impossible to introduce school vouchers in every state of America as this would lead to legal complications resulting in large number of cases filed in the courts.