In the age of information, education is becoming a vital asset to one’s opportunity for success. This gives us an even bigger reason to work toward education reform, but President Bush’s idea to distribute governmental vouchers is a self-negating proposal. A program that gives federal or state funding so that a child can choose to go to a private school (or another public school) over their neighborhood school will make certain public schools even worse than they already are and take away resources from many students with special needs.
Due to a lack of capital, a substantially smaller number of private schools exist in impoverished neighborhoods throughout the nation. Many parents of these lower-income families do not possess the funds, resources or means to transport their child to private or public schools that are located outside of their neighborhoods. A child born into an impoverished family would have a slim chance of excelling academically when so many others are going to the “better” schools that receive larger funding because of the number of students enrolled.
The school voucher scheme will not work because not all children have the same needs. Vouchers allocate a certain amount of money per student, which will be handed over to the school the student decides to attend. The problem is that some students’ education costs more than the voucher allotment, while the education of others costs less. For example, kids with learning disabilities require certain services – like aids, tutoring or resource teachers – to assist them in their education. Other kids do not require such things and their education is substantially less expensive. Under the current system, the student who costs more taps into the less costly student’s budget so his or her needs can be met. If enough of these low-cost students decided to leave their neighborhood public school and attend a private school at the expense of the government, the neighborhood school would be left without proper funding. Thus, allocating an even amount of money to each child would create a series of unbalanced budgets for different schools. Some schools would have the money to buy luxury learning tools – like high-speed computers and DVD players – for every classroom, while others will lack the funds for certain necessities such as new textbooks, or even toilet paper!
School vouchers can lead to an overcrowding of classrooms in other public or private schools as well. There is a great need for educational reform in this country, but the answer does not lie in abandoning the schools with problems. Instead of providing equal opportunity, Bush’s vouchers widen the economic and opportunity gap between classes. Nice try, Junior.
Gregory Nielsen is a junior political science and business economics major.