School vouchers: End to public education

Joe Reynolds

A school voucher program is a poison to the public school system, and a hypocrisy of the “leave no child behind” educational tenet continuously repeated by the Bush administration.
Public schools have, by and large and by varying criteria, been deemed a failure in recent years. The Republican party has proposed a school voucher program that would provide parents with monetary stipends and enable them to send their children to private schools, supposedly giving families the power of choice in rescuing their kids from dead-end educational scenarios.
But who is to receive these school vouchers? The resources simply are not available to provide them to every wanting student, “leaving some children behind” in what would be even more severely depleted schools. And even if a program could be vast enough to provide vouchers to a great majority of students, wouldn’t the result be de facto public schools anyway? Students will merely be shifted to a different building; their educational environment will not be upgraded.
Proponents of vouchers have argued that the presence of greater competition will motivate the public schools to intrinsically improve, but this notion is as ridiculous as it is incorrect.
How can a public school “compete” if its already paltry resources are siphoned in order to fund a voucher program? It is the equivalent of standing on people’s necks while simultaneously imploring them to stand up.
Education cannot be solely entrusted to the workings of the free-market system, as any car or property purchase would be. An educated citizenry with the ability to reason should be a priority for a democratic, people-sovereign society, and therefore protected and made equitable by the government. Conservatives have called for choice to be moved from the hands of Washington bureaucrats to those of parents, but this is only a means of releasing themselves from blame when schools fail.
The government must be willing to absorb some level of responsibility if the prospect of education is ever to be universal and equal.
It is education that, above everything else, has the power to break the chains of poverty, to provide hope where there was only desolation.
It is the single opportunity that gives a child born in the projects of Bedford-Styvesant an ability to prosper to the same degree as his neighbor born on Park Avenue. It is an endowed right, and it can only be maintained through the strong endurance of the public schools.