Another Empty Promise of Vouchers

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Here are some observations about vouchers, as it relates to the state of Texas.

One of the reasons presented for vouchers in Texas is that parents should not be forced to send their children to a school that has been rated as failing three years in a row.  At first glance, that seems logical, but under scrutiny, the argument falls apart.  Yes, there schools that have been chronically low performing and those schools should be improved.  Note to policy makers: This actually takes training, resources, staff and time… Which costs money. However, no matter how much one might wish it to be, vouchers will neither improve a chronically struggling school NOR will they help the students attending the school.  

Why… The chronically low performing schools are either in extremely impoverished areas serving extremely impoverished families or they are located in very remote locations.  A voucher has no impact in either of these cases. 

Take the impoverished school serving impoverished families.  Just giving a family a voucher for partial private school tuition doesn’t solve the problem. First, the child now has to be accepted into a private institution (in no way a given). Second, the parents still have to make up the difference in tuition (how hard can this be for an impoverished family). Third, the family would have to find a way to get the child to the new school (if the family has a car, hopefully the parents’ work schedules will match the school schedule).  Just one of these requirements would be a significant hurdle.  Overcoming all three is a near impossible proposition.

Now take the school in the remote location.  When there is only one school in a 30 mile radius and the school has an enrollment less than 200 students, you can give out all the vouchers you want, but there is no place to use them.

So a voucher program does not solve the problem as presented.  

Sounds a lot like an agenda looking for a problem.

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