Vouchers and Entitlements

Given that closer proximity to November, the anti-voucher side is starting to move. I’ve noticed an increase in letters to the editor opposing vouchers using the old arguments that they are for the rich, etc. (which I have addressed in the past). You may also want to refer to the “vouchers make sense” site as well form further background on some of the myths and facts regarding the vouchers system passed by the legislature. Obviously, there is also an increase in the number of letters from the pro-voucher side as well.

Anyway, one argument that is partially new is that the voucher program will be a new entitlement program. The argument is incorrect in that this would not be a new entitlement as a taxpayer funded education entitlement program already exists. Vouchers would only change who (parents vs bureaucrats) has the power to allocate a portion of money in the entitlement and dictate which school your child will attend. However, the argument is correct that this type of program remains an entitlement. If government mandates payment for something benefiting certain group(s), its an entitlement, plain and simple. But this is, ultimately, not any new entitlement.

The other flaw in this argument, if ‘officially’ adopted by the anti-voucher camp is that it has the potential of becoming a major wedge issue. The argument essentially states that public education is a big entitlement and that entitlements are bad. This ultimately carries on to the conclusion that the program should be drastically cut and parents and communities etc. should shoulder their responsibility to educate their children. As a matter of fact, the closing sentence in the letter to the editor seems to imply exactly that:

What needs to happen is adults need to get off the entitlement bandwagon and start owning up to their responsibilities.

Somehow, I doubt this argument would sit well with the UEA, which is constantly shrieking about funding (and then administrators taking the lion’s share of it).

As a side note, I lived in Australia for a while. Australia has a plethora of private schools (particularly grade 7-12) in addition to public schools. As I recall, Australian students consistently score higher and are just as capable as US students.

Finally, if you want a new entitlement, the proposed RAP tax serves as a perfect example.

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5 thoughts on “Vouchers and Entitlements

  1. Public education isn’t an entitlement, it is a responsibility assigned to the state in our state constitution. Every citizen in Utah benefits from the fact that a free public education is provided to every child in the state.

    Vouchers are a subsidy for families who don’t want to put their kids in the public schools which by law have to be made available to everyone. You have no right to demand that I help pay to put your kid in private school. I’m surprised someone who takes the conservative position in so many cases supports these subsidies.

    Bob Lonsberry wrote a great column about how no real conservative could support taxpayer subsidies for private schools. You should check it out.

  2. Ugh…I forgot to proofread. Of course public educatio is an entitlement. I meant to point out that it is a constitutionally mandated entitlement sperate and apart from the proposed subsidies for private schools.

  3. I see vouchers as providing the means to meet the full intent of the education responsibility of the state.

    If a child is struggling a public school, for what ever reason (method of learning, disability, ADHD, bullying…you name it), why not give them the opportunity to go to a school where they will flourish. We see children fall behind, feel inadequate, give up and, too often, entirely drop out. Why not provide an opportunity to catch these kids, who would otherwise fall through the cracks, and give them the means to meet their full potential.

    I have zero problem allowing parents to use my (mandated) tax money to provided the best education possible for their child, especially if it save that child from dropping out and falling short of their potential successes. Ultimately, that truly meets the definition of “every citizen benefits”.

    I don’t believe it states, anywhere, that there can only be one single means/system of educating the public, (ie no language precluding any other form of educating our children). Vouchers would only be another system to help the public meet their full educational potential.

  4. Pingback: Consolidated Voucher Post (Referendum 1)(Update)(11/1 Update) « Utah Rattler

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