Vouchers not effective in solving education problems


Ariel and Will Durant, authors of “The Story of Civilization” book series, once said, “Education is the transmission of civilization.” You don’t have to be a car person to know the Durants are conveying an important message that education is the key component to running society.

Education is the most important issue in the world. It can help offset crime, poverty and violence. In every election, education is the one issue both parties can agree needs to be at the front of initiatives – the problem is, there are some differing ideas on how to fix the problems. In states like Utah, citizens take it upon themselves to make the important decision on school vouchers.

Essentially, school vouchers take money from the general-education fund and provide a select number of students with tuition for private schools as an alternative to public schools. Typically, Utah is not thought of as a good barometer to measure social issues in the United States, but it certainly has the opportunity to help beat down an educational program that sets education back.

According to National Public Radio on Oct. 26, there are education advocacy groups pouring money into Utah to help persuade people in the state to vote for or against a referendum to repeal school vouchers. These particular vouchers are taxpayer scholarships for every student in the state who wants to be a recipient.

It is undeniable that school vouchers indeed give some students a better chance at excelling in education, especially in schools where all hope is otherwise lost. These vouchers can act like a life raft for dedicated students.

President Bush, a big proponent of school vouchers, continues to try and push this program into legislation. On Jan. 25, the Washington Post talked about President Bush’s use of school vouchers in the No Child Left Behind Act.

The vouchers would give students in the worst 1,800 schools in the United States an average of $4,000 in scholarships to attend private or religious schools. Ignoring the irony of taking a few promising students out of bad schools and calling it No Child Left Behind, we can all agree: Helping students who need it is a good idea.

However, instead of draining money from the educational fund, why don’t we continue to build it up and help all schools? Courts across the country have heard cases concerning school vouchers as a violation of the law. All citizens pay taxes into the education fund, but with the voucher program, a parent could be paying for someone else’s child to go to a private school, while their child remains in a dire institution.

Education needs serious reform, but all children deserve this chance, not just select students.

Another problem with school vouchers is they don’t necessarily send promising students to a better institution. On Oct. 11, the Post reported school vouchers in Washington, D.C., have helped send students to schools where teachers do not even have a bachelor’s degree. The schools are over student limits and some don’t even have operating permits.

It is unclear what Utah will do with its upcoming vote, but at the moment, it is 60-40 against the school voucher program. When listening to candidates speak this coming year, make sure they are on the right side of helping education.

Kevin Phillips is a senior in legal communications. Please send comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.