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School Vouchers: A Harmful Choice Essay

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School Vouchers: A Harmful Choice


Since entering office in January, President George W. Bush has given education reform high priority on his agenda. One element of his four-point initiative involves the implementation of school vouchers. A voucher, as defined in The American Heritage Dictionary, is a "certificate representing a credit against future expenditures." (The American Heritage) By diverting tax dollars from public schools to private institutions through the use of vouchers, America's public education system will become less effective, students from low income families will be set further behind, and the First Amendment will be directly violated.

The conservative economist Milton Friedman first suggested the concept of school vouchers in 1955. He laid out a plan, "to return tax monies to parents of school-aged children for tuition use in a variety of authorized public and private educational settings." (Noll 193) Now, President Bush embraces Friedman's philosophy with his four-point education initiative. In his plan, Bush advocates (1) annual testing in reading and math in every primary grade; (2) empowering schools and school districts to implement reforms; and (3) federal government assistance in transition to higher standards. Most significantly, Bush says in his final point, (4) "If any school consistently fails to meet minimal standards for three consecutive years, vouchers will be offered so that children can go to the school of their selection, rather than the choice of the government." (Thomas 1) For the most part, liberal Democrats, such as Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, agree with the first three elements of Bush's proposal; but party lines are drawn over vouchers (Thomas 1). Under Bush's proposal, stu...


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...homas, Cal. "Bush Won't Leave Kids in Bad Schools." The Grand Rapids Press. 26 Jan 2001: A13 pp. Bell and Howell Information and Learning-Proquest. 6 Mar 2001.

"Vouchers." National Education Association. . 8 Mar 2001.

"Vouchers Ignore Bush's Chance to 'Unite' Rather Than 'Divide.'" National Education Association. 23 Jan 2001. . 8 Mar 2001.

"Voucher Talking Points." Rethinking Schools Online: An Urban Education Journal. Fall 1998. . 8 Mar 2001.

Walthers, Kevin. "Saying Yes to Vouchers: Perception, Choice, and the Educational Response." Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Education Issues. Ed. James Wm. Noll. Vol. 11. Guilford: Dushkin/McGraw Hill, 2001. 194-201.

The American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed. 1992.


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