First, a short quote:
[T]he US public has rejected every element of the libertarian counter-revolution. The first proposal voters rejected was the privatisation of schooling. Because US education policy is dominated by states and cities, this issue was fought at the local level. It turned out that most conservative Republicans as well as Democrats were content with their suburban public schools. Again and again, voucher proposals went down to defeat.I've dealt with the blanket accusation concerning the libertarian counter-revolution here; the subject of vouchers, however, deserves a more thorough rebuttal.
Cato recently released a damning review of the latest negative poll results concerning support for voucher systems. "What the Public Really Thinks of School Choice" reveals the fact that Americans support school vouchers at higher levels than ever in history, depending on how the question is asked. It's just that the people funding the polls don't want to ask the right questions.
When asked (in a separate Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation poll) "Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose any school, public or private, to attend using public funds?" 60% of Americans favored vouchers. This is one of the highest levels of support that vouchers have ever seen. And yet, when asked (in the more widely publicized PDK poll) "Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?" 36% favor vouchers. The difference in wording purposefully slants the results in the direction that PDK wishes. Why do I say that? Because PDK used different language on their earlier polls, until the results flipped in favor of vouchers. They've used the revised wording above ever since.
The group that funds the negative polls, PDK (Phi Delta Kappa) is a gov't school advocacy group interested in promoting the gov't monopoly on schooling. And what is being left out are the facts concerning cost, and access to superior schools.
Cost analysis of Washington DC's voucher system shows that it saves the district millions of dollars and would continue to do so if expanded to cover all the schools in the area.
Voucher programs would immediately provide access to better schools for parents who take an interest in their children's education. Sites like Great Schools rate your local schools based on performance (or whatever criteria you wish to sort by) providing the information a parent would need to make an informed decision.
[charter schools (the closest thing we have to vouchers in Texas) routinely outperform gov't schools located in the same areas of the city. Concerned parents should make the effort to find charter schools in their area and make a stand for their children's education. If you can't find a charter in your area, and/or you feel you are equipped to teach your own children (as someone quipped when I sent them this entry "Aren't most parents also conscripted teachers as soon as the infant kids realize they have the power to communicate?" Why, yes they are. Some of us just don't feel that we are knowledgeable in enough areas to do the job all by ourselves) you might prefer homeschooling as an option. Homeschooled children routinely outperform all other groups on standardized tests]
However, groups like Phi Delta Kappa and the NEA don't want parents to be able to make those types of informed choices. The official reaction to John Stossel's "Stupid in America: how lack of choice cheats our kids out of a good education" (his latest broadside on the problems in the US today) outlines the stark truth here; teachers and administrators alike are hostile to any criticism of them or the schools they operate.
It should be painfully clear to anyone who watches the program that the teacher's answer to your objections is the same one they give your children. "Sit down and shut up. We know what's best for you".
Personally, I was released from that kind of prison quite some time ago. I paid my debt to society for being born, graduated high school and was allowed to go on and do something with my life. I wouldn't willingly sentence my children to similar confinement.
No, Mr. Lind. Those of us who are informed on the subject of schools are not content with the current offering. We are looking for something better, and vouchers might just fit the bill.