Do vouchers help poor kids?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tyler B., Sep 3, 2019.

  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Just ran across this article and wondered what my teacher colleagues think.

    Here's a quote:

    Researchers — including several voucher advocates — have conducted nine rigorous, large-scale studies since 2015 on achievement in voucher programs. In no case did these studies find any statistically positive achievement gains for students using vouchers. But seven of the nine studies found that voucher students saw relative learning losses. Too often, these losses were substantial.
     
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  3. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I’m a huge proponent of school choice; however, I don’t think public monies should be used to subsidize private schools. And this is coming from a private school administrator. I’m happy to note that my school doesn’t accept vouchers because we don’t want to take money away from cash-strapped public schools, especially since we are so cash rich.

    With that said, Tyler, here is a study from the University of Pennsylvania and results are mixed: https://publicpolicy.wharton.upenn.edu/live/news/1076-school-vouchers-pros-and-cons

    The above study references multiple studies that show pros and cons of voucher programs. The results are not as one-sided as you claimed.
     
  4. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I have no idea how vouchers would work here. We are a high-poverty area surrounded by other high poverty areas. There are two small private schools in the next county. Otherwise, it’s an hour away to another school.
     
  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I think voucher systems can be effective if done right (think: regulated). Look no further than the Chilean school system, which enacted vouchers decades ago:

    “A voucher system that provides the same amount of money to every child and that relies solely on the operation of education markets to monitor the quality of schools is likely to result in more segregated schools and greater inequality of educational outcomes. In contrast, a voucher system that takes into account the especially high cost of educating well children from low-income families, especially when they are concentrated in particular schools, and that provides government monitoring of the performance of individual schools, may result in improved test scores for both low- and higher-income students and a closing of income-related achievement gaps.”

    Also:

    “In the first five years after the passage of SEP, the average test scores of Chilean fourth grade students from both low- and higher-income families increased markedly and income-based gaps in those scores declined by one-third. We found that the key mechanism responsible for these gains was the combination of increased financial support of schools and the SEP accountability system.

    We also found that the movement of students away from public schools and into private schools continued under SEP, and that this trend held for low-income as well as those from higher-income families. The segregation of low-income students into different schools from those attended by higher-income students did not decrease in the first five years after the passage of SEP.

    Some private schools specialized in serving low-income students, just as had been the case before the passage of SEP. But under SEP, these schools had much more money to work with as well as pressure to improve student test scores. Other private schools specialized in serving students from middle-class families and served relatively few Priority students.”

    https://www.future-ed.org/work/what-chile-teaches-us-about-school-vouchers/
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  7. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I've never seen any reason to believe that "school choice" was anything other than an attempt to make rich people richer and to strengthen attempts at resegregation.
     
  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I like the idea of school choice within public schools - like a hybrid of vouchers and magnet schools.
     
  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Really? Resegregation?
     
  10. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    This has been my observation as well. The greats leveling of the education gap occurred when segregation and poverty were addressed during the 1970s.
    Charters and vouchers brought back segregation.

    I'm all in favor of school choice, just not publicly funded.
     
  11. otterpop

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    I see both sides, honestly.

    If I were a parent and living in an area with a dangerous or very low performing public school, you bet I'd be trying whatever was within my means to get my child access to the best education possible. If I could afford private school, that might be an option, but if I couldn't (as is true for many families), charter schools would be another feasible option.

    I understand that school choice and vouchers take money from public schools, and that sucks. But if it came down to me, trying to get the best education for my own child, I'd be taking advantage of other options, whether vouchers, charters, or whatever else was available.

    I don't know about data on resegregation, however. It seems to me that these school alternatives separate more by involved/uninvolved families rather than race. I know several charters in my area that are extremely diverse.
     
  12. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  13. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Futuremathprof, you quoted a Betsy DeVos fan club site to find evidence that the Chilean voucher system has been a success.

    Here's what Eduardo Andere, an independent researchers writes:
    “In the case of Chile, the reforms were imposed by a military regime and were very different from those adopted in New Zealand. The Chilean reforms were what is now often described as “neo-liberal”: decentralization of decision making, vouchers, standardized testing and accountability with league tables, teacher assessment or evaluation, privatization of school education services.

    “The results of the reforms in Chile are: very low performance in PISA. At the last published PISA 2009 test, Chile was tied with Mexico as the lowest performing countries, among 34 members, in Math. Chile ranks about the same as Mexico but below the rest in Science and Reading. Chile has launched deep reforms; Mexico has not; and yet the two of them show very similar performance.

    “The voucher system in Chile is very limited and only works partially for certain kinds of schools, i.e. private subsidized. There are three types of schools: municipal (for the poorest); subsidized private (for middle class); paying private (for the elites). Academic performance is highest in the last ones, which have no vouchers or public subsidy."
     
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  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Try again Tyler. Here is the most recent study:

    Student Achievement in Chile Compared to Other Latin American Countries
    To analyze the change in educational achievement, this study compares countries based on the data collected during the six waves of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from 2000 to 2015, the most recent as of the release of this study.

    The latest data show Chile scores higher than any other Latin American country in math, reading and science.

    Chile has experienced considerably higher academic achievement than other Latin American countries. Chile’s academic gains from 2000 to 2015 ranked second only to Peru, whose starting point was drastically below any other Latin American country that participates in PISA.

    The Conclusive Evidence on Chile’s School Voucher System
    So based on the data, can we call the Chile experiment a “miracle” or a “failure?” As with most public policies, we would say the answer falls between those two extremes.

    Chile’s school voucher system has not exactly worked a miracle in recent years, but it has certainly been a huge step in the right direction for student achievement. Furthermore, it appears segregation levels in Chile have not been exacerbated by its voucher system. In fact, the system might have even held worsening neighborhood segregation trends at bay in its schools.

    It’s important to note also that the first iteration of Chile’s school choice system isn’t what exists today. The program is constantly evolving and improving in efforts to better serve families. For instance, when lower-income families whose vouchers didn’t cover some private schools’ tuition or transportation to their schools, lawmakers changed policy to provide more support to those students.

    Like it or not, it is undeniable that Chile’s public education is better in many ways than it was before 2000. The evidence suggests Chile’s school voucher system is more of a “success in progress.”

    https://www.edchoice.org/blog/what-the-latest-data-say-about-chiles-school-voucher-system/
     
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  15. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    What’s more:

    “In an effort to boost student achievement and reduce income-based gaps, the Chilean government passed the Preferential School Subsidy Law (SEP) in 2008, which altered the nation’s 27-year-old universal school-voucher system dramatically. Implementation of SEP increased the value of the school voucher by 50 percent for “Priority students”, primarily those whose family incomes fell within the bottom 40 percent of the national distribution. To be eligible to accept the higher-valued vouchers from these students, schools were required to waive fees for Priority students and to participate in an accountability system.

    Using national data on the mathematics achievement of 1,631,841 Chilean 4th-grade students who attended one of 8,588 schools during the year 2005 through 2012, we address two research questions (RQs):

    1. Did student test scores increase and income-based score gaps become smaller during the five years after the passage of SEP?

    2. Did SEP contribute to increases in student test scores and, if so, through what mechanisms?

    We addressed these RQs by fitting a sequence of multi-level interrupted time-series regression models, supplemented by other descriptive analyses. We found that:

    1. On average, student test scores increased markedly and income-based gaps in those scores declined by one-third in the five years after the passage of SEP.

    2. The combination of increased support of schools and accountability was the critical mechanism through which the implementation of SEP increased student scores, especially in schools serving high concentrations of low-income students. Migration of low-income students from public schools to private voucher schools played a small role.

    We interpret these findings as more supportive of improved student performance than other recent research on the Chilean policy reform.”

    https://www.nber.org/papers/w23550
     
  16. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Futuremathprof, if you do a search for evidence that the voucher program in Chile has failed, you'll find tons of research articles blasting the program. Please don't put up blog posts from strongly-biased anti-public school sites like edchoice to support your argument.

    The original post was a question about the failure of vouchers to address the needs of poor kids in the US, so let's not get distracted.
     
  17. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Hmmm...It seems like the question has two answers. If I am an individual parent looking to put my kid into the best possible school (for them) then I want as much choice as possible. But the public funds are being taken away from the public schools if the child goes to a private or non public school, so this helps keep the public schools from being the best choice and since the non public can often pick and choose their students, it becomes a cycle of public going down and non public getting nicer test scores and sexier public relations. As someone who is in the system it depends if I am in as a parent of one, or as a teacher of many. But also worth noting that sometimes public means the teachers are more highly qualified than some of the non public schools, so that too is worth a thought if looking at this as a parent.
     
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  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    They are not blog posts Tyler. Please actually read carefully.
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I think school choice was a public reaction to hearing teachers complain that the problems within a school were out of their control, and they were powerless to make a change.

    In the hopes to improve working conditions for teachers they started becoming vocal about how they had no power to make improvements. It is natural desire to want better. So, the public looked for school choice. So, of course, that void was filled. The original hopes was that somehow parents could change the school or the district, but without teachers who are willing to put their jobs on the line, parents can't do it alone, especially since they only know "or are only allowed to use" examples that pertain to their individual child. They also aren't privy to all of the edicts sent down from the school administrators or the district administrators.

    So, I say school choice didn't happen in a vacuum. It also came about because teachers were too afraid to stand up for what they believed in. The biggest changes with unions happened when people were willing to put their jobs on the line (and sometimes their lives) to make things better. Asking too much? Maybe. But you end up with a solution that allowed for the teachers to remain powerless and safe while parents and students got a change. For some it was better, for some it was worse, and for some it was the same.
     
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  20. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    They are also segregated by transportation. Areas with better transportation have more options for school choice even when poor. Areas with limited transportation leave the poor stuck.

    In the cases where there is school choice in my area, which is very limited, transportation would be a huge issue for the poor. You just can't get from one school to another easily without a car no matter how involved the parent wants to be where in a city or town with better public transportation (a few in the country), it makes it more feasible even for the poor.
     
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  21. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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  22. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    You keep quoting studies from 2009 and below; more recent studies (2012, 2015, 2018, etc.) show positive gains from the Chilean model and though public schools are reporting the highest gains in test scores, they are still *lower* than every other SEP-participating school.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  23. MissCeliaB

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    In Louisiana, the most recent data showed that students places in private schools using vouchers showed minimal gains, if any, and in some cases showed losses. Many of the schools consisted of a computer lab with an uncertified teacher monitoring distance learning. Many of the schools were not accredited, so students graduating struggled to get acceptance into colleges. There was poor oversight of the school before or during the voucher process.
     
  24. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    It's a stretch to say that teachers caused lawmakers to open the doors to using public money to pay for voucher schools. If you follow the money, deep-pocket, for-profit charters and billionaire supporters of religious education have poured money into draining resources from the much higher performing public schools to give to religious schools which do not need to teach climate change, evolution, the holocaust and a state-mandated curriculum. Why should the public pay for this?

    The main users of vouchers are families that already are using these private schools.

    In some areas, poor kids are forced into these voucher schools (which are free of trained/credentialed teachers) when their neighborhood public schools are closed by politicians who want to "punish" the public school for the low scores of the poor, highly-stressed children. The voucher schools have even less success at educating this fragile population.

    Teachers are not to blame for this terrible situation. Follow the money.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  25. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I guess we are going to disagree.

    You say parents were already in private schools so now they took advantage of the vouchers. I don't know many parents, other than religious reasons, would remove their child from a highly successful, emotionally and socially stimulating school to put them in a private school. Wealthy people tend to be wealthy because they also spend wisely, barring the extremely wealthy.

    Many kids in religious schools, particularly Catholic schools, are not Catholic when the school is in an area with poor public schools. Also, you can often tell the areas with poor public schools where there is a Catholic population because almost every church will have a school. Areas with good schools have fewer Catholic schools. In those cases, it is more rare to see non-Catholic kids in the Catholic school unless there is a small pocket of poor performing public schools compared to the large number of public schools.

    Money took advantage of the situation that was on the ground. Parents not happy and teachers claiming there was nothing they could do about it.
     
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  26. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I think any private school that is not accredited or regulated should be shuttered.
     
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  27. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Voucher programs have varied greatly. Some are very poorly done and pushed through by some politicians who want to make a statement. It doesn't surprise me that these poorly thought out voucher programs don't do well. Working at a private school, I have seen first hand some vouchers that have greatly helped students. I believe it works sometimes.

    I do think vouchers need to ask more tough questions. Will the children who receive these vouchers be better off? What are the cost of the vouchers? How do these vouchers effect the public schools or education in general? The best vouchers I have seen, poor children are taken from some of the worst public schools imaginable where they are given a much better education at a private school. Public schools are not left in the cold, but efforts are made to see that these voucher programs are coupled with programs that will help these public schools.

    Vouchers are definitely not very common. Private school enrollment has been dropping nationwide while free education (public and charter school) enrollment has reached over 90% for the first time in over 100 years.
     
  28. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    It's really hard for me to imagine why this situation is a result of teachers. It's like you are viewing teachers as some monolithic group that together decide to complain and change public opinion against public schools.

    Many times vouchers have come up for a public vote around the country and are always rejected by voters. Vouchers were moved forward by politicians flush with campaign contributions from wealthy donors, not the public.

    Judging by the racial make up of voucher schools, racial segregation seems to be the goal of many parents who don't really care that much about religion, but want a homogeneous school population.

    What do you mean when you say "good schools"? Does that mean schools that have few if any poor kids? Those are the kids who generally score badly on standardized tests. I taught for many years at a "bad school". We had fabulous, caring teachers, but terrible test scores due to our population. When I moved to a high income school, all my students exceeded on the state test, but I was the same teacher. I hate the term "good schools".
     
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  29. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Tyler,

    Working at a private religious school, I will update you on the facts. 100% of our teachers are certified and we could lose our accreditation if they were not. Not all of our teachers aides are, but that is different in my opinion.

    We do teach climate change, the holocaust, and other items such as that. We have a curriculum that is similar to the state standards, it just has more standards and it is more rigorous. No standards--no accreditation.

    Not being accredited is the kiss of death for most private schools. Therefore, most will jump through the hoops of having certified teachers, a strong academic curriculum, and such. I wish our private school had the money that the public school I use to teach at.

    The students who get vouchers are forced to have them? Oh please. Do you have any idea how many parents are fighting over a single voucher. There are tears of joy from the parents when they receive one. One of the largest reasons that parents are leaving public schools is they have had it with schools such as the one that Rain Storm is working at. They want their children to be happy and be able to not be pressured so much by high stakes testing. Those at good public schools where teachers have choices, we never see students moving from these public schools--even with vouchers.
     
  30. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    THIS! So much truth in this.

    My private school is accredited and follows all state and federal educational laws that pertain to private schools exactly. We have an incredible legal team that frequently makes sure that we are fully in compliance. All of our teachers are required to be certified within 3 years of being hired or they are dismissed. In order to be considered for being hired, I had to have a Bachelors in Math and proof of passage of the CBEST and Single Subject CSET’s for Math (I, II, and III). The fact that I also had a Masters in Math was a huge plus to my principal.

    @Tyler, my school has extremely rigorous standards and none of us get tenure. We have to show results or we are let go. That’s just how it is. Every year, my class sizes get bigger (my average class sizes are now 30-35) and I routinely inherit public school students in my classes that have huge knowledge gaps. Speaking about this, I am constantly having to teach them or reteach them what they should have been taught at their previous schools. In some cases, it is almost as if they learned nothing from their previous instructors. It’s literally that bad.

    We expect ALL students to maintain a high level of performance and if a student’s cumulative GPA falls below a 2.0 they are dismissed. Having a 2.0 GPA is a requirement and we offer zero wiggle room on that, regardless of the family life of the student. However, we offer a TON of services to keep students on track.

    We don’t accept vouchers. We don’t need them. We are required to be certified just like you and your colleagues are. We pull in ~$33-35 million a year in tuition and operate on a revolving budget of $20-$30 million per year. We have now roughly $65,000,000-$70,000,000 in reserves and we are investing some of it to grow the principal.

    We pay our teachers more than what all the surrounding public schools pay their teachers. We have the highest standardized scores in our entire county and most parts of California for that matter. Our students score an average AP score of 4.2/5, we offer over twenty different AP classes, and our students score an average SAT score of ~1470. Not to mention, we take in huge amounts of public school students who pay discounted tuition because they are fed up with their prior public schools.

    I think we and the above respondent epitomize private schools that are doing it right.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  31. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Many still don't see charter schools as public schools.

    BTW, I do see a problem with for-profit schools of any kind.
     
  32. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    No, Tyler. You desperately want me to say it does, but no, it does not. I've seen a disaster school in my district which was going to be taken over by the state become higher performing than the wealthy schools in the district. It had nothing to do with changing students or changing boundaries of the school. It required a change in administration and a change in a large portion of the teaching staff. No, they weren't let go, just transferred to a school where students had the support at home to make up for teacher deficiencies.

    Good schools address behavior issues rather than hide them. They work with teachers and support them. Teachers teach students well using programs and methods that will work with the students they serve rather than what is most convenient for the teacher. They have supplemental services to address the needs of the student community they serve.

    Tyler, you seem to confuse caring and effectiveness, as many people do. Did I say teachers weren't caring? No. Poor quality schools may have an entire staff of teachers who care, but they may mostly be ineffective. They may also not realize that while they care, they believe that their convenience or desires to teach how they like supersedes everything else making them ineffective for their student population even though they care about the kids and want them to succeed. But then when they look at the kids and decide the fact that they are poor will make them perform poorly, there is that already made excuse to show that it isn't that they are the problem kids aren't learning, it is the students and families.
     
  33. Kiran Sharma

    Kiran Sharma New Member

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    yes, vouchers help poor children. Some kids are extraordinary but they do not have enough funds to complete their study. Some schools in India also offer scholarship to students.
     
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  34. MissCeliaB

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    It's interesting to me that in Louisiana, as participation in the voucher program has increased, so have test scores at public schools. However, when looking specifically at the test scores of the voucher students, theirs are stagnating or declining.

    We have many excellent private schools, most of which are Catholic. We also have a large number of private schools that are "segregation academies." The academic standards at these vary greatly, but the students are generally successful by virtue of being from relatively affluent families. Then we have a growing number of small religious schools, most of which hire uncertified teachers and use entirely online instruction, or curricula that are substandard. Under our voucher program, all of these schools may accept vouchers. There is little oversight for the quality of education students are getting.

    I am certainly not against private schools. I attended a private school for most of my life. But, I think that public money should go to public schools and private money should go to private schools.
     
  35. TeacherNY

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    Do schools with voucher systems have entrance exams? I'm just asking because a very good Catholic high school in my area has an entrance exam so even if they accept vouchers the students would have to pass the exam to enter the school. They have very high standards and all of the students score high academically. I'm not familiar with the other Catholic schools in the area but they are mostly K-8th grade.
     
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  36. futuremathsprof

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    We don’t accept vouchers and we have entrance exams, too, except if a student doesn’t pass them they have to repeat certain courses before they can advance.
     
  37. TeacherNY

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    I'm thinking this certain school doesn't accept vouchers but I could be wrong. I don't even know if they do that type of thing around here anyway. A few Catholic schools closed down because of low enrollment. Not enough people are willing to pay.
     
  38. Tyler B.

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    Sep 6, 2019

    Your school sounds wonderful, and I have no problem with private schools. If you look back at my post, my complaint was using tax payer money to support "voucher schools" (schools set up specifically to take advantage of voucher systems) not private schools. I hope other fine teachers in private schools have not taken any offense over my vague language.

    However, I object to ANY public money going to schools where there is no public oversight (publicly-elected school boards, transparency, etc.) regardless of how wonderful the school is.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  39. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Sep 6, 2019

    Understood. Thank you for clarifying. It’s always sad when a school closes.
     
  40. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Sep 6, 2019

    Thank you for clarifying by what you meant. What you wrote initially could be misconstrued as insulting.

    And I totally agree about there being public oversight where-ever public funding is involved. Speaking about this, my school board members and CEO are completely transparent about where every dollar is being spent and have annual meetings with us where we all sit down as a staff and discuss where tuition is being spent. It is revealed during these meetings where grant money is being allocated, how the salary schedule is adjusted, when bonuses will go out and how much, etc. It’s really nice!
     
  41. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    Sep 7, 2019

    This is just how it would turn out in my corner of the world: Most parents do not like to be called about behavior problems. Cheating on a test, lying, stealing, talking back, being hateful to other kids does not mean anything to a parent w/out values. Teachers would be told not to make calls home to inform parents.
    Many parents want to be best friends w/ their children and will do what they can to make sure their child is happy always. Teachers here have already pretty much been told not to do anything to make parents or kids unhappy here.
    I have a kid in my class this yr who moved schools by his very own choice. He told me as long as he is happy, his mom will let him stay. He lives 40 mins away, but somehow gets bus service. (We by no means have a better sped dept than the school he came from, I know all parties very well. The school he came from has that 3rd teacher.)
    Most parents here do not want their child to struggle or be unhappy about having to write or practice. They do want their kids to magically learn, but not at the risk of being unhappy or having to actually work.
    So......around here most parents would opt for a school that coddles their child, does not hold them accountable, never bothers them with a phone call, and does not prepare them for life. That would be the popular school here. Most of the vouchers would be used for schools that.
    I lived in a different area for many years where most parents highly valued education. They knew it was a way for their kids to get out of poverty. If they did not bring homework, the parent would want to know why. Most parents expected their children to be highly respectful and would be upset at their kid if they were disrespectful especially to the teacher. More of them held moral values. A lot of them were Catholic. A totally different school would be popular and vouchers would be used on schools that stressed education, values, and respect there. We'd definitely be supporting different values depending on our corner of the world. We probably already are now. ( Testing was a big deal there. It is no biggie here.)
    I do think people should have to pay if they want to send their kids to private school. It gives them some buy in to make sure the child takes school more seriously. If the private school can afford to give scholarships, they should be able to.
    So...…..vouchers here would not be a good idea here imo.
     

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