Parents Know Their Children Best (Vouchers)(Referendum 1)

Voucher foes, led by State School Board Chair, Kim Burningham, continue to try to play the accountability card on the voucher issue:

The radio ad, titled “Troubling,” focuses on accountability concerns regarding private voucher schools that receive public funds…no accountability for tax dollars.

While this is an old argument, it is ‘troubling’. It inherently indicates that parents (the voucher recipients) are incapable of making the right choice for their children. It indicates that government bureaucrats, not parents, know what is best.

Parents have full control of the vouchers. First, you need not get a voucher if your public school is doing a good job (most of us). However, we all know of children that have difficulties learning in our “one size fits all” system. If your son or daughter is struggling in a public school, you may opt for a voucher to help pay for a private school that better fits your child’s method of learning. Should a private school be inadequate, your money and the voucher walk (talk about instant accountability).

Further, parents using vouchers will typically be more involved and heavily scrutinize the school their child is attending. Remember, a voucher will often not pay the full tuition at the private school. That means parents will be opting for additional out of pocket costs rather than the already paid for public school.

I fully believe that parents will do what is best for their children. Public schools will serve most, but not all, of us and our children well (myself included here). However, we all know of neighbors/friends/family with children who need a more challenging environment, who require more discipline or individual attention, who are in a bad learning environment or on the verge of dropping out, or where other factors hinder their educational progression in a system designed to serve “most”.

While opting and paying for a private school to allow their child to excel may not be problem for the rich, it is for others. That is where to vouchers come in. Private schools will be within reach of those willing to make the financial sacrifice to ensure that their child can meet their full potential. For me, that is what our educational system should be about – not giving the “average” child a superior education, but giving each of your children a superior education whether in a public or private school.

Bottom line: I trust parents to know and meet their children’s educational interests better than I do and better than government bureaucrats do.

11/2 Update – See also: Consolidated Voucher Post (Referendum 1)

10 thoughts on “Parents Know Their Children Best (Vouchers)(Referendum 1)

  1. Rattler,

    I agree that parents know best about what their kids’ educational needs are. I don’t think anyone is arguing that you shouldn’t be able to put your kid in private school if public school isn’t working for him.

    The idea that you want to use government to force me and other taxpayers to help foot the bill for your kid’s private school tuition is what I have the problem with.

    Availability of free public education benefits everyone…even if they don’t have kids. A voucher for private school only benefits people with enough expendable income to turn down the free education for their kids and to buy a more expensive one. Vouchers are a welfare entitlement for the wealthy and represent the worst possible public policy.

  2. The argument that this is help for the wealthy is simply not valid. The wealthy don’t care – they already have the money to choose a private school (and some do). Many still choose public school. This is a moot point for them. The argument smacks of an attempt to provoke class warfare.

    For the middle and low income folks (self included in that group) it is a big deal. It will still require us to sacrifice for our children to got to the private school but makes that school’s tuition within financial reach (assuming we choose to switch – the vast majority will not).

    The whole point is that the “one size fits all” system will not fit all. Currently if your child struggles etc to the point of dropping out and you are not wealthy – tough (government, not parents, choose here). With vouchers, we allow a child (parents) who would have otherwise fallen ‘through the cracks’ to find the ‘right’ school to meet their educational potential and longterm success.

    Again, I see that as the fulfillment of our State’s educational goals. Every individual child would have the best shot at an eduction that best fits them and sets them up for future successes and a contributory member of society. That benefits everyone.

  3. In terms of being forced to pay taxes for education – we chose to as a society and we already pay taxes to private schools. One could also ask: Why should tax money go to Pell grants/GI bill/Subsidized Student loans etc – they also go to those using private (and religious) institutions? The program already does exist, just for higher education at this time. For a list of Utah Schools who accept Federal Aid (tax money) go to: Select, 2007-2008 and “Search” and Next, then select Utah.

  4. Comparing Pell grants/the GI Bill/subsidized student loans to vouchers is silly. Society benefits when higher education is easier for all segments of society to obtain. Each of these options is a great way of helping make that happen. Vouchers serve only to subsidize families who want an upgrade from the public education that is already available to all children on the taxpayer dime.

    The current voucher plan which grants a subsidy to even the wealthiest families choosing to put their kids in private schools is welfare for the middle and upper class. I agree with you that they don’t need it and that they probably don’t really care but these realities only emphasize the fact that this voucher plan is dumb public policy.

    I’m not arguing against the wealthy because I don’t like their wealth. I’m arguing that no one is entitled to a private school education on the taxpayer dime because the public schools in Utah that taxpayers are already financing are extremely effective at educating our kids. Vouchers may be a great idea somewhere like Washington DC where the public education system is truly broken. In Utah vouchers don’t make any sense.

    You are usually so concerned about the waste of taxpayer money. What is it about this voucher plan that turns Utah’s conservatives into people who want to needlessly blow more taxpayer dollars on services which are already being effectively provided?

    Your “one size fits all” rhetoric only shows that you haven’t been in a public school in a while. You should talk to a local public school principal and ask what services and assistance are available to students who are struggling and to the parents trying to help them. You’ll find that you get a better response than, “Tough.”

  5. Society benefits when a tailored eduction is easier for all segments of society to obtain and parents are given the greatest options for their children.

    Higher eduction is also subsidized on the taxpayer’s dime without looking at Pell Grants etc. Think State Universities et al.

    I see that you’ve now expanded you definition of subsidy to include middle income families. Nevertheless, I fundamentally disagree with your belief that vouchers won’t help the low income (remember vouchers are weighted based on income – the less you make, the more you get). Lower incomes will benefit and this will become more evident once vouchers are released and the market reacts. Are you arguing that voucher values should be increased (I don’t think that is necessary, at this time)?

    Schools are effective for the majority of students, I want to see an effective system for every child. We’ve decided to make an entitlement for eduction – it is not going away. The tax money is allocated, so, as a conservative, I want the best bang for my buck and I see vouchers as fulfilling the over aching education goal. I also prefer maximizing parental control over their children’s eduction (ie limit government intrusion).

    Please don’t read into things you have no knowledge on. I am well acquainted and involved in a nearby public school.

    The fact of the matter is that schools do have some limited programs for certain children but they do not meet the needs of all children or even, at times, the children they are targeted to. The teachers and principal won’t say tough, but they are limited (I didn’t say they would). What is “tough” is that if the school/parent have done all available and a private school has the right program for that child, it will be “tough” when the parent can not afford the school. Another child’s progress is unnecessarily hampered.

  6. I guess I’ve been side-tracked from my original post. While I’ve alluded to it in my responses, ultimately, I am far happier to put control in the hands of parents who inherently want (and know) the best eduction for their child than for strangers (government/me) to make that decision for the family.

  7. Pingback: Pursuit of Liberty » Blog Archive » My Position on Vouchers

  8. Pingback: Voucher Accountability: The Best Auditor « Utah Rattler

  9. Pingback: Utah’s Referendum 1: 5 articles you don’t want to miss reading | Russell Page - on PR

  10. Pingback: Consolidated Voucher Post (Referendum 1) « Utah Rattler

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s