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Debates Over School Vouchers

The debate over whether or not the United States government should grant tuition vouchers to the parents of children who attend private schools has gone on for many years, and has included many powerful arguments on both sides of the issue. Those who support the private school vouchers believe that they are beneficial to everyone because they promote productivity in both public and private schools alike, and they also give low-income families the chance to give their children a quality private school education.

Those in opposition to the vouchers say that they will drain money out of the public schools, and that they nly truly help a small population, mainly the wealthy and advantaged. Opposers also believe that the vouchers interfere with the Separation of Church and State, since many private schools have a religious affiliation. This issue has truly been a controversial one, with many people fighting arduously. After reading through the various arguments for each side, one can not help but come to their own conclusion about private school vouchers.

There have been many school voucher programs proposed in the past, but they all seem to share one common theme. This similarity between them is hat they all promote giving households that send their children to private schools a tax dollar-funded voucher that would cover all or most of the cost of the schools tuition. Many of the proposals also include the right for parents to chose which private school their child will attend. The vouchers allows students to use the money that would be subsidized for them in a public school to go toward a private school education.

This system redirects the flow of educational funding, bringing it to the individual family instead of the school district. The idea of school vouchers first became popular after Milton Friedman, n economist, released two publications, in 1956 and in 1962, that supported the voucher plan. In his 1962 book, Capitalism and Freedom, when Friedman discusses education, he turns to public education criticizes it for being unresponsive because it has been free from competition (Lieberman, 120).

Vouchers would provide this much needed competition, since public schools would now have to contend with the private schools that were receiving the same payments they were. Friedman believes that, most dissatisfied parents have only two options. They can enroll their hildren in private schools, in which case they have to bear the costs in addition to paying taxes to support public schools. Or they can resort to political action, an option Friedman regards as ineffective. (ibid. After Friedman publicly showed his support for school vouchers, a debate began in America, with fellow supporters and the opposers announcing their views on People on both sides of this issue have been very vocal over the years, explaining why they think school vouchers should or should not be implemented in American schools. In arguing about the same point in the debate, like the ecline in the quality of public schools or the separation of church and state, each group has found a way to make it fit into their beliefs.

Therefore, nothing is ever accomplished because the groups blame each other for any problems involved with the vouchers that may arise. Besides the two points listed above, minority education and low-income student education have also been used as powerful arguments both for and against private school vouchers. The Decline in the Quality of Public School Education Supporters of school vouchers feel that establishing this program in rivate schools will be of great help to the dilapidated public schools. Like Friedman said, public schools have not had any competition, and so, they have let their performance slowly diminish.

Vouchers would create a contest between private and public schools, because of the high transfer rates, and the corresponding loss of funds in the public schools. This would create an incentive for both to increase their productivity. Standardized test scores, which have also seen a large decline, will then be higher when the students learning environment, what and where they are learning, and who they are learning from, s improved. Private schools have been typically known to give more attention to the student, and thus improve his or her learning ability.

Public schools can learn from this and begin, in order to compete with their rival, to focus on the most important people in this situation–the students. Defenders of school vouchers strongly disagree when the programs are accused of draining money out of the public school system. Their argument is that a considerably smaller amount is spent on private students then on public. In fact, in an article written in 1998, the author states that, On average, public chools now spend close to $7,000 per student, per year, twice the average at private schools. Coulson, Myth-Conceptions About School Choice)

This allows supporters to claim that the public school districts are not properly funding the schools with the sufficient amounts they are receiving. Vouchers would not affect the public schools since they would not need funding for the students leaving the public system. This meager loss of funding should not affect the schools at all if they are spending the subsidy they do receive properly. Those who are against school vouchers believe that they would reduce ublic school funding if implemented.

This is because students who are already paying tuition to attend the private schools will receive the vouchers, thus taking money away from the public schools. Even though there will not be a loss due to students leaving the public school system because of vouchers, there is still a loss because the public schools will now have to share funds with the private schools. The public schools claim that they need this money more because it goes to a broader range of services required to serve their more diverse mix of students, especially those from low-income families.

Since many of the students that attend public schools, particularly inner city school students, come from low income families, and are the needy people in the community, this loss of money affects them the most. Thus, the vouchers will only cause more harm then good In response to the supporters argument that vouchers should be implemented because of a decline in performance in public schools, and a high level of performance in private schools, opponents argue that this is because most students that attend private schools come from wealthy and advantaged families.

The parents of these families are usually very well educated themselves, and put more of a focus on their childs education. This, therefore, helps to instill a desire to learn into the children and actually helps them achieve better grades. Many of the students that attend the public schools come from backgrounds where education was not looked at with extreme importance, and they do not receive much support at home. This then, often makes them not eager to learn, and makes achieving low test grades not a significant problem.

The Separation of Church and State says that religion, and any nstitutions related to it, can not interfere with government, nor can government interfere with it. This is a popular argument that voucher supporters face, since many private schools have religious affiliations. The response to it is that all private schools dont have religious affiliations. Most of them, in fact, are merely small, privately owned, exclusive institutions that pride themselves on giving more attention to each student individually.

Though religious schools are included and considered private institutions, this is no reason to say that vouchers should not be used since the majority of private schools are not In defense of the religious schools, voucher supporters turned to the Supreme Court. Though it has not come up with a final verdict on the issue yet, the Court has been using a three-part test used to determine the constitutionality of aid to religious organizations. These three criterion for are: 1) All government funding must have a secular purpose. 2) Its primary effect must not be the advancement of religion. ) It must not entangle the state excessively in church affairs. (Browne… , Vouchers: An Initiative for School Reform? ) Defenders of the vouchers say that this test makes vouchers in religious schools onstitutional because 1) the vouchers are for all private schools and also affect public schools, therefore they have a secular purpose; 2) The primary effect of the vouchers is to improve the quality of education and give everyone a chance to attend a private school; 3) By approving vouchers, the state is not entangled excessively in Church affairs.

Therefore, voucher proponents argue that the Separation of Church and State should not affect the establishment of the Those against vouchers in the school system feel that the Separation of Church and State is a leading reason why they should not be allowed. After all, t does say in the first amendment of the Constitution of the U. S. that, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (USConstitution. com).

This establishment clause explains that the government can not make any laws that affect a religious institution. Though this clause has been reinterpreted in the past, voucher opposers feel that it should be abided by strictly in this case. This is because if government issues the vouchers, they will also have to overlook the handling of them, even if voucher advocators do not want them there. That, to opposers, is a total violation of the first amendment.

The Constitution is the basis for all of the laws that Americans abide by, and this Opposers to private school vouchers often use the 1967 court case of Poindexter vs. Louisiana. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled against a voucher program in Louisiana which was designed to prevent public school segregation. The Court explicitly declared that “The United States Constitution does not permit the State to perform acts indirectly through private persons which it is forbidden to do directly. ” (about. com) That, of course, is exactly what vouchers do.

Just as the government cannot subsidize churches by funneling oney through private citizens, it cannot subsidize church schools by funneling Affect of Vouchers on Low- Income and Minority Students Proponents of school vouchers feel that the use of them by low-income and minority families will be of great help to the groups, who are more likely to get stuck in an unsatisfactory public school. Because low-income families often can not afford to attend private schools or move away to areas that provide quality public education, they have no other option but to stay and receive a less than mediocre education.

Supporters of vouchers feel that if these students ere allowed to attend a private school with the help of vouchers, it would increase the range of educational choices open to low-income families and reduce the education gap. (Coulson, MythConceptions About School Choice) Low-income families would be able to provide their children with a good education, which give them a better chance to move on, and be successful in the Supporters of vouchers also believe that the implementation of the program would promote integration among different races.

With all children, no matter what race or economic standing, being able to receive a quality private ducation, there are better possibilities for the classrooms to be integrated. With more minorities receiving better educations, the vouchers will also help to lessen the racial gaps that exist. Overall, supporters argue that vouchers will be good for everyone, because they will include everyone. Opposers of private school vouchers argue that the program will only help a select few, most of which will be those who do not need the help.

As stated earlier, children who are already attending private schools will receive the vouchers to pay for their education. While some low-income and minority tudents may benefit from them, many of them will not because of tough acceptance practices. Since their educations have been less than average in the past, many will not have the ability to get into the private schools. For those that do get in, they face the challenge of being in classrooms with more advanced students and also not being able to handle the pace of the class work.

Those against vouchers also argue that many low-income families and minorities will not even take advantage of the vouchers. The programs will assist only the motivated poor, and leave the dysfunctional majority in schools hat have even fewer resources and funds. (Knowles, Speakout. com) These motivated poor are the low-income families who have the time and desire to find importance in a good education. Even they sometimes can not afford to take advantage of the vouchers, due to the fact that they may not cover the whole tuition expense.

Beside tuition, there are also uniforms, books, and various other expenses that go along with a private school education. Opposers of school vouchers strongly believe that establishing these programs will only turn out to hurt low-income and minority students, and further widen the conomic and racial gaps that exist. After carefully looking over and reading about the arguments that both the opposers and the supporters of private school vouchers have so arduously set forth, I have come to support the implementation of these programs.

Before I began researching this topic, I did not know much about it except for the recollection of it being discussed in school, when I attended a Catholic private elementary school. I have come this conclusion because I feel that the vouchers will truly help both the private and the public schools, and all of the students that If voucher programs are established, particularly in inner-city areas, it will give a boost to both the private and the public schools. Private schools will have higher attendance rates, and be able to put the funding that comes along with it toward the benefit of the children.

Public schools will have a chance to give themselves much needed improvements, so that they can retain the students in the schools, and return to the great institutions that they once were. It will hopefully be a large wake-up call to the public school system to reexamine just where all of the money they are receiving is going. It is certainly not going into a better education for the students–the ones that should be benefiting from it. Children in both public and private schools will, in my opinion, benefit immensely if vouchers are used.

Public school students will have the chance to leave these institutions and enter in to smaller, more education-oriented, private schools. Every student will have the chance to receive a good education that will give them more attention, which is something that many of them need. Students who decide to stay in the public schools will hopefully experience a better ducation because the schools will have to change in order to compete with the private schools. Also, the normally large class sizes in the public schools will now be smaller due to the students leaving.

Private school students will benefit because they will have the advantage of having classmates of various races and backgrounds in their class. This is good because this is how the real world is. When students are in classes all their lives with children that are just like them, they never get to interact with others who are different, until it may be too late to prevent prejudice and ignorance. I truly feel the school vouchers are a great way to help both the schools and the children that attend them.

Making a change like this, in my opinion, will truly help brighten the future for everyone. As the above information has shown, the debate over whether or not government should give vouchers to parents to send their children to private school has been one with many powerful arguments for each side. Supporters of the vouchers believe that they are constitutional and that they will help both public schools and private schools, as well as low-income and minority students.

Opposers, on the other hand, feel that the vouchers are unconstitutional because they violate the Separation of Church and State clause, that they will only drain money from the already needy public schools, and finally that they will hurt the low-income and minority students attending the public schools. After researching this issue, I too have come to my own conclusion–that school vouchers should be offered to all students. Surely, though, this issue will continue to be debated over for a long time to come, until some sort of compromise can be made.

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