In the US today the most useful change to the schooling method would be a system of school vouchers provided by the local government to pay for the education of children in each family. School vouchers refers to a system of public educational finance in which parents are given a tuition certificate by the government that can be used to pay tuition at any approved school, public or private (Levin, 2002). Parents can use these vouchers to pay for the cost of any public or private school they choose for their children. Levin (2002) noted that essential policy debates have risen around the subject of educational vouchers as an alternative for financing and organizing elementary and secondary education. School voucher system places the operation of schools into the competitive marketplace. Phillips & Bostian (2011) mentioned that “a school voucher system would greatly help parents to give their children the educational opportunity to succeed” (p. 544).
Explain Two Strengths and Two Weaknesses of School Voucher Systems
The major strength of the school voucher system is that all families regardless of income can benefit from the school voucher program (Phillips & Bostian, 2011). This also implies that low income parents gain access to a wider range of educational options for their children (Phillips & Bostian, 2011). Another significant strength of the school voucher system is that richer families’ tax dollars would continue to fund the public school system as do now, and they too would receive educational savings from the vouchers if they choose to enroll their children in private schools (Grudem, 2010).
According to Phillips & Bostian (2011), the vouchers do not ignore the needs of the poor nor do they defraud the wealthy. The system is therefore fair to all levels of tax payers. The school voucher system makes private schools and home schools more affordable to parents hence it forces the public school system to become more competitive. The school voucher system would allow parents to send children to schools that supported their own moral and behavioral values (Grudem, 2010).
The main weakness of the school voucher system is that parents can use them to send children to church related schools and therefore the government will be supporting training in a certain religion (Grudem, 2010). According to Phillips & Bostian (2011), school voucher programs that include sectarian schools disgustingly violate the constitutional separation of church and state. Another weakness of the school voucher system is that the existence of different school sectors has consequences for parents’ choices and for the competition among schools. Erisen (2008) says that “the presence of the school voucher system may aggravate societal divides, creating the context in which parents can group themselves with similar parents” (p. 210).
The System's Effects on Taxpayers and on the Economy
For parents who home-school their children, the vouchers have a value reliant upon the income of the family. Phillips & Bostian (2011) says that “homeschooling families would turn in the vouchers when filing their taxes and the money will be given in the form of a tax refund” (p. 545). The amount can be worth 15% of the voucher’s value at a private school. This means that if the voucher was worth $1,600 because of the family’s income level, they would receive $240 if they homeschooled (Phillips & Bostian, 2011). The money can be spent on school books, supplies, computers or other educational items. According to Borsuk, the school voucher system is associated with an increase in taxes, which has allowed many low-income to attend private schools in the recent past (2008). Borsuk (2008) further says that the way vouchers are paid for now, through a combination of money from state government and local state property taxes, is a major reason why the property tax increase is so large. This has also a major implication on economy of the country since more resources are directed towards the payment of the vouchers. It is important to note that the school voucher system does not relieve any one the burden of taxation to pay for schooling (Tucker, 2008).
I support the school voucher system. This is because through the voucher system children will be better educated. Grudem (2010) noted that after the city of Milwaukee launched its school voucher program over the protests of the National Educational Association (NEA) a survey of the results was carried out. Grudem (2010) indicated that “comparing schools where at least 66% of students were eligible for vouchers with schools where fewer students were eligible, it was found that in just one year schools with the most students eligible for vouchers made gains greater than those of other Milwaukee public schools” (p. 156). Studies show that schools with the voucher eligible students went up 3 percentile in math, 3 pints in language, and 5 points in science and 3 points in social studies. Tucker (2008) argued that “the introduction of the school voucher system will give every parent a greater opportunity to choose and at the same time will require public schools to charge tuition” (p. 85). Essentially the introduction of the school voucher system will greatly improve the quality of education in the entire country.