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.