The Problem of Vouchers and School Choice Essay

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The Problem of School Choice

Is it right to force students to attend the schools prescribed for them by geography? Is it fair to deny students who live in poorer neighborhoods the chance to go to better schools with better facilities, better teachers and safer conditions? Should we allow our tax revenues to leave our school districts for greener pastures? Should we permit schools poor in both resources and performance to wither on the vine, an acceptable casualty of competition?

Because of dissatisfaction with many public schools, particularly those in large urban settings, a movement to allow students to choose alternatives to their assigned schools has sprung up in various parts of the country and abroad. Proponents
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As our populace ages, especially in small, old towns, more and more voters begrudge spending on schools, students and teachers. School board candidates, knowing who votes, campaign as "taxpayer advocates" much more often than they run as "student advocates." The voters want to pay as little as possible and get acceptable results. For many of them, acceptable results means graduating most of their students with as few problems as possible. Innovation is seen as an expensive, unproven luxury that taxpayers on fixed incomes cannot afford. Buildings are maintained at the lowest possible functional level; aesthetic improvements rank very low in budget priorities.

In inner city schools, a smaller proportion of the cost of educating students comes from local tax revenues; more comes from state sources. If there's one iron-clad truth it's that, as much as taxpayers dislike paying taxes to support their local schools, they hate their tax dollars going to schools outside their community even more. So the impoverished schools are unlikely to receive funds to help them do the things that make schools attractive to both students and teachers: upgrade the physical plant, provide technology advances and offer amenities (seen as luxuries by taxpayers) that make people want to spend time in school. Ugly buildings get uglier, outdated curricula is perpetuated, and schools in poor neighborhoods
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