Since I began promoting school charters and vouchers last March, I have heard five main arguments against the program.
- They don’t work.
For example, the NEA-affiliated Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) rails against Milwaukee’s failing voucher schools, but hides the funding disparity.
The Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system serves 95,600 students with an annual budget of $1.15 billion/year, or $15,690/year per student. The MPS’ voucher school program serves 14,000 students with an annual budget of $83 million, or $5,928/year per student.
The Cleveland (Ohio) Municipal School District (CMSD) also comes up short. When the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) reported the failure of school vouchers in Cleveland, they didn’t mention that CMSD’s $8,000/year per student budget or that vouchers were funded, “up to $5000/year per student” (which often means much less). These numbers aren’t current, for CMSD posted their most recent budget from their 2000/2001 Annual Report.
Like the cynical landowner who belittles a sharecropper’s shack, the teacher unions under-fund charter and voucher schools and then blame the effort as a bad idea.
- Teachers aren’t paid well.
- Tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on religious schools.
- Private schools can refuse admission to undesirable students.
- Vouchers and charters threaten the survival of America’s public schools.
The NEA opposes vouchers and charter schools with these talking points:
- There's no link between vouchers and gains in student achievement.
- Vouchers undermine accountability for public funds.
- Vouchers do not reduce public education costs.
- Vouchers do not give parents real educational choice.
- The public disapproves of vouchers.
For more information read:
Brookings Institute: Voucher Q & A
Hoover Institute: Issues & Arguments on Vouchers
RAND Corporation: Vouchers & Charters (2001)
Cato Institute (1994)
Rethinking Schools Online
School Choices - Issues & Arguments on Vouchers
On Public Education (.pdf version here)
The Lost Generation
How does opposing teacher salary incentives for high job performance help children?
Teachers Union's Dirty Little Secret
Old-timers rewarded, while young punished
Extending Teacher Tenure
Ari Kaufman on Poor Eco-Education in Schools
Indoctrinating the Third Grade
Education Indoctrination, Environmental Style
AJ Kaufman’s Essays on Education