Butting heads: School vouchers

College Democrats:

Something both sides of the aisle can agree on is that our public school system in Wisconsin is calling out for help.  While we commend Gov. Scott Walker for attempting to improve this failing system, we do not see voucher schools as a sustainable approach to take.

The children of the state of Wisconsin deserve a full and comprehensive education, including classes in the arts, advanced classes and programs before and after school. Gov. Walker’s proposed program gives more per-pupil revenues for voucher schools using taxpayer dollars, resulting in public school districts losing state aid. With spending on students in public schools frozen, school districts without funding are forced to make cuts instead of improvements.

One of the biggest arguments in favor of voucher schools is that they are more cost-effective. Schools cannot just be cost-effective; they need to be quality institutions that are going to ensure our children are the best-educated in the world. Voucher schools are largely not held accountable to certain federal and state standards; we cannot use taxpayer money on a system that is unaccountable. Students who are able to take advantage of voucher programs are often not coming from broken schools but are leaving high-performing schools in order to attend private institutions.

Voucher schools have been in Milwaukee for more than 20 years, but the system is still in shambles — the experiment has failed. It is time to come up with real ways to fix the broken education system. It is undeniable that some voucher schools work, but an expansion of this magnitude leaves behind the children in public schools.


College Republicans:

The idea that our education system needs to be rigid and structured to a point where innovation and achievement are impossible is not acceptable. In most of America’s largest cities, less than half of students complete high school. For those who do, their performance in math and reading is underperforming many other countries.  Our education system does not need to be remade but needs to be made more open and flexible to a diversity of student needs.

Gov. Scott Walker’s next budget includes provisions to expand the school voucher program. This expansion will allow more students to find and enroll in schools that can meet their needs and prepare them for the world outside the classroom. The voucher program expansion, and school choice as a whole, exemplify the American values of choice, freedom and equal opportunity.

School choice is an important issue as we consider ways to reform education in the United States. School choice has led to higher academic achievement, an increase in graduation rates and increased parent involvement in children’s education.  This proposed voucher expansion would open these benefits to more Wisconsin families and students.

Giving vouchers to families and students so they can find a school that suits them will create an environment of competition and innovation in the education system.  This competition and innovation improves academic achievement for both public and non-public education institutions. By keeping the status quo, we continue to let many school districts fail our youth as well as society as a whole. If we can open up these schools to choice, opportunity and competition, we can move public education forward into the 21st century.