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Vouchers and School Choice – Efficacy of School Voucher Programs Argumentative Persuasive Essays

Efficacy of School Voucher Programs Will school choice significantly improve educational standards? This is the fundamental question in school choice policy debates. Are vouchers the solution or do they just compound the problem? Teachers unions believe school choice will destroy the public school system, a mainstay of government responsibility. Yet others argue that the failings of public education are the fundamental reason why certain groups are held back from advancing their place in society. Who is right? More importantly, whose interests will win out? Supporters of school vouchers say that the entity of school choice does indeed exist currently–but only for affluent families. Children in affluent families can be sent to whatever school a parent desires, they argue. However, low-income families are restricted in their options and thus are forced to send children to subpar educational institutions. This has the effect of perpetuating the cycle of receipt of poor education leading to low-income jobs in the future. The only way to break this cycle of inequality is to intervene at the point of education. Supporters contend that leveling the playing field for educational access will lead to greater equity on a larger scale. Opponents question the quality of education in private schools which are not regulated by the State. Schools in which teachers may not be credentialed and curriculum varies from school to school. Such opponents, including many Congressional Democrats, say that voucher programs rob needed cash from local public schools. “Vouchers will not reform our public schools, they will only serve to weaken them,” says Robert Chase, president of the National Educational Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union. Opponents believe that withdrawing money from already underfunded public schools will simply exacerbate the problem.

Give Vouchers and School Choice a Chance

All We Are Saying is Give Choice a Chance

Critics of school choice programs invoke a two-pronged attack. First, they claim that only the best students with the most motivated parents will take advantage of charter schools and voucher programs-two of the most popular choice vehicles. Presumably, the best students come from families in which parents are involved at home and at school and who provide more support for their child, partnering with the school. Second, critics contend that the flight of the best students leaves behind disproportionately large groups of chronically underperforming, special needs, and problem children who will drag down the rest of the students in the public schools. Teachers will spend inordinate amounts of time on discipline and basics; administrators will be obliged to devote excessive amounts of resources to meet special needs. Critics contend these two effects will doom the traditional public school system to failure. Indirect evidence to the contrary, however, has been uncovered. These data may be preliminary, but they are compelling.

Enrollment data on charter schools in the 1997-98 school year show that the demographic mix of students enrolling in charter schools is remarkably like that of students in the rest of the school system-the flight of the best and brightest or the affluent or nonminorities is not apparent. The striking similarity of these enrollment patterns rebuts arguments that only the privileged will choose the option of charter schools.

Furthermore, over the past 10 years in the Milwaukee school system, which operates the country’s longest-running publicly provided school voucher program, the performance of students in the system has increased remarkably. In fact, their increases have outstripped those of students in the rest of the state. There may be disputes about the performance of the students who have used vouchers and left the Milwaukee public school system, but the data show that the students left behind are faring quite well. Competition to keep students (and the concomitant funding) may be providing an incentive for the administrators and teachers in Milwaukee to pick up the pace and improve overall performance.

According to a January 2000 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nationwide there are minimal differences in the distribution of minorities, the disadvantaged, and disabled students in charter schools and traditional public schools.

Students’ eligibility for a free or reduced-price lunch under the National School Lunch program (a measure of economic disadvantage) allows for the comparison of poverty levels between students in charter schools and those in public schools in the states that have charter schools.

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