The Voucher Debate

by | Sep 21, 2003

In Washington D.C. right now, there’s a huge debate going on about school vouchers. Here’s the debate boiled down to its bare — and honest — essentials. The opponents of school vouchers resent the fact that some kids will end up in superior schools and some will end up in mediocre schools, which they believe […]

In Washington D.C. right now, there’s a huge debate going on about school vouchers.

Here’s the debate boiled down to its bare — and honest — essentials.

The opponents of school vouchers resent the fact that some kids will end up in superior schools and some will end up in mediocre schools, which they believe will be the primary consequence of school vouchers. They would prefer everyone be in an equally horrible school rather than some be better off than others. This is what the Communists believed, too: poverty for all rather than wealth for some, middle class for most, and poverty for others.

The proponents of school vouchers emphasize choice and freedom. They also emphasize the obvious objective superiority of private schools. What they evade is the fact that nobody has a choice about paying the taxes (which will probably rise ever higher) to pay for the school vouchers. Under school vouchers, people who don’t have children — or who already take responsibility for the education of their own children — will still have to pay for the education of everyone else’s children. In other words, socialism will still be the rule of education. Under socialism, everyone is responsible for everyone but nobody is responsible for himself. The fact that many people who are either childless or whose children are grown are forced to spend part of their day paying for some stranger’s child to be educated at, say, a Catholic or Montessori school rather than at a public school does not change the basic injustice of this coercion.

The other issue evaded by advocates of school vouchers is how the performance of superior private schools will be affected, once public money flows into their coffers. Won’t vouchers essentially turn private schools into public schools? Do the conservatives really think that the liberals won’t insist that if tax dollars go into private schools that government must now regulate them more? Right now, private schools stay in business by pleasing the customers: that is, the parents who pay the tuition. Private schools are not subject to all the politically correct nonsense and red tape currently governing public schools. Under vouchers, private schools will have huge numbers of students coming in with government money. The outcome is easy to predict. We can expect vouchers to do for education what Medicare did to health care.

Also, what if some private schools don’t want to accept vouchers. Will they be forced? Conservatives evade this issue too.

As with so many other issues, the liberals are wrong — and the conservatives are even more wrong.

The only moral and practical solution to the growing education crisis, in D.C. and elsewhere, is total privatization of education. Leave education to the private marketplace — and in some cases, to parents themselves, with competent home schooling on the rise every year. Let freedom and justice rule, and watch the innovation begin.

Editor’s Note: An excellent way to implement such a program are tax credits for education.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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