A new study just came out showing that the Louisiana voucher program had negative effects on student achievement.
It’s one year of data on a new program, so I would caution against any grand proclamations on the usefulness of vouchers. There’s a much richer literature from which one can draw conclusions.
Perhaps more interesting is how voucher advocates reacted.
Jason Bedrick’s piece – The Folly of Overregulating Vouchers – criticized the Louisiana program for:
- Not allowing tuition in excess of the vouchers.
- Not allowing private schools to use selection criteria for admitting students.
I feel like I’m missing something.
The logical extension of Jason’s argument is that an all voucher education system would lead to a public education system where all schools would be allowed to reject students based on wealth, academic performance, and behavior.
Is this right?
Either voucher proponents have very different views of equity than most citizens, or they don’t really view vouchers as a replacement model for the current public education.
I’m curious – which is it?
Overall, I’m sympathetic to lowering barriers to entry (you have a crazy idea that parents will sign up for, go for it) and to reducing test based accountability (you and families think there’s a better way to measure school performance, go for it).
I understand the risks involved with this type of deregulation, but I think it’s worth trying and seeing what we learn. I don’t know if it would work, but it might, and the potential the upside seems high.
I also think there are things you can do to solve for equity (significantly weighting vouchers for at-risk students), that will lead to higher performing private schools enrolling hard to serve kids.
But, ultimately, I’m not ok with taking the public out of public education.
A system where every school can systematically discriminate based on wealth is not one that I want to be a part of.
Is this is where the voucher movement is heading, count me out.
If, on the other hand, the voucher movement is really about innovation, entrepreneurship, and family empowerment – then count me in.
Lastly, I have a ton of respect for people on all sides of this debate, so if I’m mischaracterizing anyone’s views, I’ll update the post.
But, admittedly, I found some of my voucher friends making arguments that, to me at least, were pretty unconvincing.