Friday, November 2, 2007

School Voucher

Megan McArdle has been arguing vociferously on her blog in favor of school vouchers. She is confident enough in the free market to solve the problems public schools have not been able to fix.

I find myself very ambivalent on the issue. It sounds good in theory to give parents the ability to get a voucher and pull their kid out of a struggling school. I haven't seen any plan, though, that addresses all of the problems that arise from this. One, in a free market system, schools may find it prudent to not accept troubled kids or mentally retarded kids because they will cost more to educate. Two, kids who don't move will be stuck in a school that is getting less money and thus less able to pay for necessary supplies. Three, a free market system opens itself up to corporate influence and I'm not sure that is a good idea. Four, such a system is going to need a lot of oversight and if it is going to be so heavily regulated what is the point of contracting it out anyway? Five, many issues in public schools stem not so much from problems with the schools, but with socio-economic factors beyond the schools control. It won't matter where kids go to school, these issues are not going to just disappear.

I believe that society benefits from mandatory public education. I think we have problems in our current education system, but I'm not sure that vouchers are the solution.

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