vouchers and the public school dilemma

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Bryan is an artist, father, husband, and son (not really in that order). He works for the Department of Vetern's Affairs and writes and administers The Fireside Post with his father, Ohg Rea Tone. His writings have not been published, though they have been printed a lot.

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vouchers and the public school dilemma


The debate about public school systems and what to do with them is complicated and seeped in emotion and personal experience. The program of offering vouchers has as broad a mix of public opinion as any of the publicly debated issues today. I have my own thoughts and feelings, and they are conflicting and always changing as I weigh my own experiences and my hopes and dreams for my children and my community.

I want my kids to attend the best schools. I want them to have the best education. I want them to learn and excel and soar so that they might become the best adults that they can be. If I send them to the school closest to my house, which is what the district says I should do, then word on the street is that they may not get that opportunity. That school isn’t as good. I already know which school my kids should attend, because everyone has told me. Some people are more diplomatic about it when I tell them which school my kids will attend. They say things like, “Oh, well, that school offers a different set of challenges.”

So, one option for solving the problem of the hierarchy of quality schools is to provide the parents with vouchers so that they might choose the school that there children attend This will certainly create a more competitive atmosphere in the public school system, and the schools will be forced to raise the bar in the education of their students. They will have to take measures to ensure that the children are getting everything that they need, so that the parents with vouchers will choose their school. But, does this solve the problem? It does if you see the problem as a failure of the school system to ensure the proper education of our students.

For a long time now, the parents have felt relieved of the responsibility of being the principle educator in their children’s lives. Parents are busy, they have work and church and the kids have sports and dance. There really isn’t time to engage fully in the education process, so the school systems are being charged with the full and unrelenting task of educating our children. No longer is the school house a tool that the community engages to leverage the power of community in teaching and raising children. The public school system has replaced the community system in imparting values, knowledge,, and relationships to our children. The public school system is not designed for that, and it will fail, and vouchers don’t address that problem.

Parents have to be the primary educators in their children’s lives, and communities have to be engaged in the process. We are on a road that gives more responsibility to the school system, rather than diversifying the current program. A really good private school will do a better job of taking care of our kids for us, but we will still suffer as a whole.


There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. Great post, I stuggle to send my kids to a pivate school for all the same issues you noted. The bottom line either way, public or private is that you will get out of education what you take reponsiblity for at home. To get the most out of your childs education you realy have to be involved every day, and not just expect the school to do everything. Once again, realy like the post, thanks.

  2. too true, Joe. I guess struggling is what we, as parents, are destined for.

  3. I have a lot of faith in our public school system. Part of the reason for that is because I spend so much time doing those daily at-home things, but I still believe that we need to be giving it our best shot and when I hear talk of vouchers all I can think is what that money could be used for. Wouldn’t it be better spent on training for teachers in these “failing” schools to better equip them to deal with the unique population of students that they are teaching, or perhaps building more schools to reduce the size of the classrooms in the schools we have? I understand the argument you were making for vouchers in your post and had never thought of it that way before, but I think in the end all it really does is diverts money from public education to private schools and as you pointed out, does not really solve the problem.

  4. http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=721737

    This is an interesting study done on voucher students in Milwaukee, which from what I understand is the only school system that has had vouchers around long enough to really study the effects.

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