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Don’t Let School Vouchers Gut Public Education

School vouchers are being marketed as a way to improve education in America. Unfortunately, the truth is that school vouchers will actually do more harm than good by gutting public education. Here’s why working class Americans should be wary of school voucher programs.

What Are School Vouchers?

School vouchers are monetary certificates given to families with the intent that the money can be used toward private or religious school tuition costs.

School voucher programs may sound like a good idea on paper but in reality they are nothing more than a way for wealthy private individuals and corporations to gain access to public taxpayer money while simultaneously gutting what little funding there is for public education in America.

There is a reason we need State and Federal Departments of education to determine what a rigorous public education looks like. The requirements established even a decade ago do not reflect the scientific and technological advances that have been made since; and we need our young people to be able to compete in the global marketplace.

Charter schools based on religious orthodoxy or watered down curriculum devoid of controversy will never give students the critical thinking skills needed to become successful adults and parents. For working class people who depend on quality public education for their children's future success, the downside risk is too great.

A recent Brookings Institute article identified 4 different comprehensive studies of vouchers in 4 different school systems: "Four recent rigorous studies—in the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio—used different research designs and reached the same result: on average, students that use vouchers to attend private schools do less well on tests than similar students that do not attend private schools. The Louisiana and Indiana studies offer some hints that negative effects may diminish over time. Whether effects ever will become positive is unclear."

For many working-class families, especially those who live in rural areas or low-income urban neighborhood, providing a rigorous and consistent public school curriculum ensures that low income families get the same quality education as their wealthy and well-connected counterparts. Quality public education, affordable and accessible healthcare, and a living wage are essential tools of social mobility in a healthy democracy.


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