I just came across this little editorial in the Washington Post that touts school vouchers and worries that President-elect Obama might eliminate them. I’m a generation past worrying about vouchers and my son’s education, but I decided way back then that I didn’t like them.
When my son was in school, we lived in a middle-class neighborhood with average neighborhood public schools which my son attended. When it became apparent that he was not being challenged enough by those schools, we decided to make the financial sacrifice and send him to a private school. We chose to pay the private school tuition in addition to our taxes which were still financing the public schools. At that point we were, by choice, paying double for one education; our son was in a private school but our tax money was still supporting public schools.
Our leaving the public school system did not lessen our financial support of that system; we did not throw any funding out of balance (except, perhaps, our own bank account). So why did that create a need to “level the playing field”? Or maybe more to the point, why shouldn’t we have received a voucher, too? What am I not understanding about vouchers? They are publically funded, are they not? (Privately funded scholarships would be another matter entirely.) Clearly I must be missing something if they’ve been around for 30 years or more. Vouchers, as I understand them, just don’t make sense. Perhaps someone more familiar with the system will explain it to me.