Voucher programs and education's decline

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tyler B., Mar 27, 2013.

  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Indiana’s supreme court has ruled that public money can go to religious and private schools with no public oversight. The private schools do not out-perform the schools they were meant to replace, and teachers are paid less in the private schools.

    I don’t understand why politicians go this type of “reform” when the data does not support it. It seems a rush to eliminate free public education.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/us/indiana-voucher-program-ruled-constitutional.html?_r=0

    Sweden has been doing this voucher scheme since 1995 with disastrous results, unless you own a private school. Swedish performance on international tests has declined since 1995, private school enrollments have grown, social stratification has increased, and the for-profit sector is thriving.

    A summary of the most recent research on this is available here:

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/03/26/the-swedish-voucher-system-an-appraisal/
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I'm convinced it's designed to give wealthier families an option to avoid public education but still get public funding for that (private) education. There's just no other explanation at this point.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I simply do not approve of my tax dollars going to private or religious institutions through a voucher program. If you choose to go to another public or charter school, that's one thing. Don't ask me to pay for a private or religious school.
     
  5. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Agreed. I don't support vouchers. I also agree that it's a step on the path to getting rid of free public education. I just hope that if it all falls apart, it means we'll build up something better.
     
  6. Rebecca1122

    Rebecca1122 Comrade

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    I teach in an Indiana religious school getting those dollars (and yes I do make less $!!). While I am not sure I agree with the system, I am glad to see that our 'voucher kids' have an opportunity to go to a great school that their parents normally couldn't have afforded. For a couple of our middle schoolers, that has been a saving grace.

    Also, technically my school does out perform other local schools, especially Indianapolis Public Schools, when looking at standardized testing data. But that is like comparing apples to oranges, really.
     
  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    If your issue is that politicians don't do enough for public schools, I agree with you. I am a strong supporter of public schools even though I work for a private one. There are various voucher programs. Yes, there are some that are mean spirited ones who aim only to take from public schools and give to private schools. Others don't take any away from public schools, but just aim to help some poor students who don't have many choices for education.

    Public education disappearing? Actually for every one student who enrolls in a private school, two leave. Private school enrollment is decreasing in most states. Many private schools have closed since charter schools have started. The only way public schools will disappear is if charter schools will replace them. In Arizona, it took less than 5 years for there to be more charter schools than private schools. I am not saying it is a good or bad thing, but public school's main competition is charter schools not private schools.

    I am for any school that helps educate children--public, private, or charter. I have had students who were "victims" of awful charter schools who were badly bullied and came to our private school. The students are so happy to have a safe place to go to school. I am not saying all charter or public schools are like that (many are quite good). However, some private schools provide a good alternative for students who don't have access to a good public or charter school.
     
  8. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    How right you are! However, public money should not go to private school unless public oversight goes with it. Schools that take public money should be required to open their books to pubic scrutiny. They should also be forbidden to reject students who are more expensive to educate: conduct disordered, autistic, multiple handicapped, and so forth.

    Vouchers are a method to transfer pubic money to private businesses and leave the weakest, most costly students in the public schools.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    We meet with the public school district all the time for child studies for the children we have who qualify for special education so we can meet their individual needs. It is difficult because some of the children with severe special needs have costs more than we can afford. We aim not to say no to any child, but we don't get any money from the government for special needs students, so we can only do so much. We are an inner-city private school with funds less than most public schools.

    As far as oversite we have it. Inspectors and accreditation make this happen. If we are found in violation of not teaching state standards, not having certified teachers, or many other standards set by the state, we can lose our accreditation and all public money (which is mostly just for students to receive free and reduced lunch).

    I agree with you with publlic oversight on money as long as it doesn't interfere with the mission of the school.
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I also agree. Tax payer dollars should go toward public education. If you want a private education, that is your right, but I should not have to pay for it.
    For the argument that there is no decent charter/public school around, I know schools where I used to live (Michigan) usually belong to a school of choice program which allows parents to enroll their child in a different district. Yes, transportation costs fall to the parent, but it is likely cheaper than private school. Or, of course, don't move to an area if you don't like the school/system/district. I know that is easier said than done, but I grew up with a single parent that worked at a grocery store. From 1989-1993 she made less than $15K per year with 2 children. My mom never went on any type of food stamps or welfare. We did qualify for free lunch, and my grandparents helped with things like Christmas, but it can be done. It isn't easy, but if you have your children's best interest at heart, you will make the sacrifice.

    (Didn't mean to get up on my soapbox- it just can get touchy for me.)
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    The issue with this is that those schools may not be prepared to support some of those students. Of course, the response is that public dollars just shouldn't go to those schools at all, but - to the extent that we continue to use vouchers - I definitely don't support mandatory acceptance of all students. It would not be appropriate for some.
     
  12. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    You are right. It would not be appropriate for some.

    Is it appropriate for the pubic to pay private schools to strip out all the heathy, most motivated learners leaving the pubic schools with what's left?

    This is a tough issue, but I think the solution is to for the politicians to show greater stewardship of public money and not use it in a way that weakens public education or reduces the public oversight of the funds.

    Are you aware of any studies that show the use of vouchers strengthen public schools?
     
  13. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I'm not sure that the evidence out there suggests that this is an all-or-nothing issue - that private & charter schools only educate "easy" kids and public schools only educate "hard" kids. I do think there is evidence that particular schools do this (and particular charter chains), but I'm personally familiar with several schools (private, Catholic, and charter - separate schools) which serve difficult populations. The idea that charters are intentionally blocking difficult children may be true in some cases, but not all. This issue has definitely been sensationalized by Ravitch et al.

    However, I do believe there is truth in the issue because many private or charter schools can eject kids for infractions that publics schools may not be able to. The issue here, though, is that we need to evaluate schools (if we are going to at all) accordingly. This is easier with special education populations because documentation is easier, but becomes more difficult when it comes to discipline, and even more difficult when it comes to motivation. Because of this, I'm with you on the accountability piece - because there are unknowns and no real way to effectively consider the differences in population, we shouldn't hold both sets of schools equally accountable (again, if at all).

    However, I'm slightly resentful of the discussion that acts like we shouldn't even want those unmotivated learners or kids with disabilities at our public schools. That's offensive to many of us who very much enjoy trying to reach and work with kids who may not be successful at the present time. The way the argument is phrased makes it sounds like those kids are unwanted, including using words like "dumped."

    I agree with you. I'm on your side with this issue.

    That's a difficult question to answer, and one that I believe Diane Ravitch (and others) continuously ask inappropriately, at least in a away (and not just with vouchers, but with NCLB, charters, CCSS, etc.). There are two problems with asking that question:

    1) Vouchers themselves are not the intervention, but what's happening in particular schools. The success of vouchers depends on the success of educational strategies used with those vouchers. Saying poor performance of private schools receiving vouchers does NOT reflect on the efficacy of "vouchers," but on the efficacy of those schools. If vouchers were suddenly given to wildly successful schools, those vouchers would suddenly appear to be successful, and again - it wouldn't be the vouchers that were successful, but the schools.

    2) If the voucher strategy works or doesn't work, it's not possible to identify which component of that package of interventions worked because it's all being implemented at the same time. It's impossible to say that vouchers worked because it forced public schools to compete, or because instruction was better at those private schools, or because the administrations at those private schools were better, etc. So, we can't say competition didn't work, or private school instruction was no better, etc., because we simply don't have the data.

    Both of these issues point to a fundamental flaw in evaluating these strategies. I DO believe that on a very broad level it's possible to ask whether the educational health of our country is better (via achievement measures) before or after vouchers, but identifying vouchers as an active ingredient (or any of the possible ingredients within a voucher system, such as quality instruction at participating private schools) is not possible, thus rendering it impossible to make conclusive statements about the efficacy of vouchers as a strategy/intervention package.

    In reality, the only real "intervention" that a voucher is would be spurring competition with public schools. Things like innovation and higher quality instruction are things that could be occurring in public schools, so it's not possible to say that vouchers or charters are the sole route to innovation - it's just that we're giving charters and charter teachers freedoms that we aren't giving public school teachers. However, vouchers do uniquely add the element of competition, so I believe the better question is, "Have I seen any studies suggesting that promoting competition between schools increases student achievement?" The answer to that question is a resounding "no." I haven't seen any evidence that schools perform better when they feel their jobs threatened.

    All in all, again - I agree with you. But, we shouldn't ask questions like "is there evidence for vouchers" because it's a question that's easily dismantled by someone with a small amount of understanding of research design.
     
  14. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    I'm on the other side of the fence about vouchers.The public school system is going downhill FAST! If I can help a parent that realizes they want a quality education for their child (where their child's teacher can actually TEACH) then I'm all for it. I previously taught at a private-school where 90% of the students were able to attend on vouchers, and those parents never took that for granted. I am a firm supporter of private-schools because of what I see/experience everyday from 'teaching' in a public school. It's not about an elite status, it's an education status. In private-schools, teachers (for the most part) are still allowed to teach without being hassled by NCLB/Common Core and all the other latest public school trends.
     
  15. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I'm glad someone finally admitted that the reason they don't support vouchers is because they want to control the education system.

    Welcome to the Statist mindset.

    If anyone had bothered to actually read the decision by the court you'd see that the legal reasoning was that the money was going to families who then chose where to spend it. The decision stated clearly that if the vouchers were specifically for private schools they would not be legal.
     
  16. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Mar 30, 2013

    Just realized my post didn't really fit in with the original topic.
    Sorry.
     
  17. Ms B IL

    Ms B IL Rookie

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    Do you think that this decision would also allow parents to have that amount of money to be spent on homeschooling materials? It seems that it would have to allow them to do so if the money is for parents to spend on the education they want for their children. I may be misreading that though.
     
  18. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    What if they wanted to use it to create an "educational experience" for their children and take a trip to Europe? It's sad, but I don't trust some parents to always know what's best for their child when it comes to education.
     
  19. Ms B IL

    Ms B IL Rookie

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    I agree. I think in the case of public money used by private individuals for a public purpose (compulsory education), oversight would be more necessary, not less. I'm not sure I agree that parents should be able to use tax dollars for private, religious, or home education at all, but if they are allowed to do so I think that they should have a responsibility to prove that they are providing an education equal or greater than that required by law and public schools.

    Also, I think that the money would need to be shown to be going to educational purposes. Voucher-using students should not be allowed to be charged a higher tuition than other students. I would think that it would not be out of the question for them to also pay only the portion of the tuition at a religious school that does not pay for an exclusively religious course (such as a high school where religion is one course out of eight taken yearly so the voucher pays 7/8 of the tuition and parents are required to pay for the religion course themselves).

    If homeschool materials are allowed they should be accounted for and the remaining money should remain in the treasury rather than given to parents as a check (maybe like a health savings account: only used for certain items and the money expires at the end of the year); $9,000 goes a long way if you are only educating one child with no operational or staffing costs.
     

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