School Vouchers: Empty Promises

In a sense, the whole "voucher-school choice" business is a bogus issue. When we consider that there are almost 50 million children in our public schools, touting vouchers as a solution to our educational problems is an empty show.

Only a small percentage of those millions of students could find good non-public schools with openings available. And since more than 75 percent of non-public schools are parochial, and very few communities offer a variety of private or parochial schools, most parents would find that their only "choice" would be a school that inculcated a religious faith not their own. For many, that would be no choice at all.

Of course, private and parochial schools might very well spring up overnight in response to the sudden availability of government money. But granted the shortage of qualified people to teach at the salaries available to teachers, the quality of those new schools would immediately be open to question. Many of them might well become cruel disappointments to those who looked to them for the educational salvation of their children.

Why, then, are voucher proponents so determined to make vouchers the centerpiece of their educational proposals? Would vouchers really provide quality education and school reform for America’s children? In particular, would vouchers improve the quality of education for children of families that are poor? The answer to the last two questions, I believe, is a resounding "no!"

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1998
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