Vouchers and School Choice are Long Over-due
Length: 546 words (1.6 double-spaced pages)
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This paper reports on my position on school choice, what I believe is the ideal school choice program and the steps that must be taken to successfully implement school choice. First and foremost, the idea of school choice is not a new concept. Those who could afford it always have had school choice. Now as a potential option for more parents, choice will be constricted by the amount of money and the type of resources (transportation, political influence, etc.) one has.
I approve of the idea of school choice that empowers parents to select their children's school. However, as choice is now proposed this empowerment will not happen for all parents. Those with the least amount of money and resources will have the fewest choices. In cases where lower income parents lack transportation to the school of their choice, the nearest school will most likely be their only option. Also, where will the additional money come from when lower class parents do not have enough to pay for the school of their choice?
According to economist Lester Thurow (1996), the middle class was created by the government's investment in education, i.e., GI Bill. School choice seems like the government's way of sharing the wealth with the middle class in addition to providng more schools to choose from. This effort appears to be an attempt at widening the ever-closing gap between the middle class and the lower class (a.k.a. working poor). School vouchers or educational opportunity grants may even entice parents who send their children to private schools to send their children to public charter schools thereby reducing what they now spend on tuition.
Although school choice does not guarantee a quality education or the employability of graduating students, I believe that school choice will offer competition and have a positive influence on operational efficiency. Based upon conditions in some inner-city public schools (crumbling infrastructure, lack of access to technology, few and/or outdated books, etc.), there will probably be even less students in traditional public schools thereby having a positive effect on reducing the classroom size. This could make teaching in a traditional public school more manageable.
In the readings an argument made for school choice was that children who might otherwise fall through the cracks will be given the chance at an education best suited to meet their needs.
I am left to question who will decide what their needs are and how is this "chance at an education" going to happen.
In conclusion, I do not think that there is such a thing as the ideal school choice program. Ideally, every community school should be the choice of that community. The following steps must be taken to successfully implement school choice if it is to be an option for all: 1. eradicate institutional racism, sexism, classism 2. provide equal access to the school of one's choice regardless of cost 3. make all schools exemplar educational institutions
Choice alone is not the solution to what ails American schools. It will not eliminate drugs, teenage pregnancy, crime, or poverty faced by our students. However, I do believe that the competition created by choice will have a positive influence on improving education and pave the way for the long over-due recognition of competent educators.