By Frankie Dulatre
Ever since 1628, private schools have been around, helping children by giving them the education they need to advance in their life, and yet the only children who have that privilege are children who have a family who can afford it, but in 1869, school vouchers were invented to help lower income families. Private schools have the reputation of being expensive to get into, the reason being having specialists in school subjects instead of teachers, almost new textbooks every other year, new equipment for sports, and notoriously having ‘better food’ than other schools.
But, for lower income families they wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition that they have to pay in order for their children to receive the best education. So in an effort to try and make it more affordable, private schools offer school vouchers: a system of lowering the price of the tuition cost to try and match the amount of money the family makes so when the family pays for the tuition they will still have money left over for necessities.
With the help of school vouchers it helps to improve education in general by making public schools compete with private schools for students in a free market, allow school districts to overcome racial and other controversial problems, and offer students in failing schools access to a better education. But as much as there are positives to school vouchers, there are as many negatives to it that are more impactful.
First, and probably the most important negative, is that school vouchers are taking the money away from public schools, and instead using that money to help the private school. According to the NEA [National Education System] as long as the voucher system exists, this means that there will be a higher enrollment rate for students into private schools and will make the enrollment lower for public schools. What this means for the public schools is that there will be fewer new issues for textbooks, workbooks, programs and any other school activities and supplies the school might need to teach its students due to low enrollment for public schools that eventually leads to lower funding. However, defunding the public schools is not the only effect. Not only do vouchers take away their money, but it also makes public schools more expensive. This effect from the vouchers makes the cost become more expensive for the taxpayers who have to fund two schools, private and public.
Second, vouchers take away the rights for disabled and academically challenged students. To make you understand this reasoning more, it is legally stated in Section 504, and also protected by the ADA [American Disability Act], that any students that require accommodations must receive the help they need. Since public schools are funded by the government, they are required to give whatever assistance the disabled and challenged students need. But since private schools are not funded by the government, they can essentially follow and make their own rules, with the exception of the general and ground rules of schooling. This means that whether a disabled or challenged student were to attend a private school, the school is not required to supply the student with the accommodations they need and can make the student continue receiving their education without the guidance they need. Obviously this is a horrible and harmful thing to do to students considering it can lead to the student(s) having a hard time learning and also trying to navigate around the school, but going back to the previous statement, since the vouchers are basically taking away the funding for public schools, they are also taking away the funding for accommodations and other necessities for the students who are disabled and challenged. Overall, not only vouchers are taking away the rights for disabled and challenged students in private school, but public school as well.
Finally, vouchers do not even affect the overall education and student’s academic performance. Private schools who provide school vouchers try to justify this action by saying that public schools are not academically challenging and that the money they took from them would not make a difference, but study and research from Economic Policy Institute [EPI] show that students who attend private schools that use vouchers are not significantly effective and instead found more effective improvements from students that attend schools where vouchers do not exist. Overall, vouchers do not improve the academic performance of students, all vouchers do is provide new textbooks almost every year and call it ‘new material’ even though it had the same content as it did the year before.
School vouchers are harmful to not just public schools, but also the students. If a family you know or new parents that are wondering where to send their children for school, try to recommend that they send their child to a public school. The only thing they have to worry about public schools are the reputation, education, teachers and staff, and assure them they do not have to worry about school vouchers.