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Public School Vouchers. Essay

2634 words - 11 pages

Since the inception of universal public education, public debate has remained constant. Battles between local, state, and even national control of schools have never ended. Politicians, parents, and teachers continuously tinker with public education, seeking an ultimate utopian system. Today, educational debate is harsher than ever. This is warranted as concern is high for the status of public schools. Over the last century, public education has evolved to end separate but equal policies, force integration, and enforce the separation of church and state. The present concern is that public education is once again failing our children. As always, different options are examined to better education.One such option is school vouchers. The school voucher debate has attracted attention over the last decade, climaxing with a final decision of constitutionality by the United States Supreme Court expected by June 2002. School vouchers are different from other educational choice programs. A voucher is a government check presented to the parents and school for the purposes of choosing a new school for the student. This is different from other programs such as tax credits in Arizona. Arizona allows families to receive a tax credit for tuition costs of another school. Charter schools are also different from school vouchers. Charter schools are subsidized by the government. The government can revoke the charter and halt funding at any time. Voucher programs date back to the early 1900's in Vermont and Maine. The two states wanted to ensure that every child had access to schools, at a time when some children were not located in a school district (CNN). It is only in the 1990's that other localities and states adopted voucher programs and sparked debate.The issues presented by school vouchers have polarized Americans. Many are for vouchers, and many are against vouchers. Few are left in the middle. Proponents of school vouchers make their main case the condition of failing, inner city schools. Varying in different programs, vouchers are offered to failing students in urban schools. The students have a choice to enroll in another public school or private school. Supporters argue that a majority of voucher recipients are poor minorities. Therefore, these poor, neglected students have a new chance in a school outside the district. In addition to providing better education to these failing students, the push for school integration is renewed (Coulson). Since school integration became the law of the land in 1954, white families have flocked to the suburbs, resulting in separation of the upper classes and lower classes.Opponents argue that this completely undermines public education. A study by People For the American Way (PFAW) cites that the voucher costs drain money from public schools. This has negative effects instead of keeping the money within the school budget. Another complaint is the right of private schools to admit or deny students entry, while public...

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