School Vouchers Discriminate — Don’t Do the Voucher Hustle

a row of people outside a school hold signs spelling out "Defend public schools."

Image by Light Brigading, Flickr Creative Commons

January 26, 2015

The folks behind National School Choice Week are asking people to dance January 25–31, 2015, to support private school vouchers. Don’t be fooled. There’s a hustle going on here, but it is no dance move. National School Choice Week is truly a push for private school vouchers, which threaten public education and don’t offer quality school choice for all.

I know voucher schemes give me no cause to dance, and here’s why.

  • Proponents view National School Choice Week as an opportunity to hype the supposed benefits of “school choice” by highlighting public school options like charter and magnet schools while also sneaking in private school vouchers.

They know that Americans consistently oppose vouchers but have also seen polling that favors “school choice,” a disingenuous euphemism sometimes used for vouchers.

  • Private and religious schools are among the biggest proponents of voucher schemes, and they want your federal tax dollars to teach their religion.

Students who want to attend a secular school are left with few options, as the vast majority of schools that accept vouchers are religious schools. (AAUW has long had a strong position in favor of the separation of church and state in our member-adopted Public Policy Priorities.)

  • Voucher programs systematically exclude students with disabilities from participation.

Private voucher schools often fail to provide equal access for students with disabilities, and there are reports that children with disabilities have either not been enrolled at all or have been asked to leave schools.

  • Private voucher schools can enforce their own morality when it comes to enrollment of students and hiring of teachers.

These practices may subject LGBT students and teachers to severe peer harassment, formal discipline, and even dismissal.

  • Entrance tests allow some voucher schools to reject students with poor academic achievement, and admissions can discriminate based on gender, religion, ability, race, and income (especially if you can’t afford the difference between your voucher and tuition).

Additionally, private voucher schools can be quicker to remove students if they are judged to be disruptive instead of working with students to fix behavioral issues.

  • Although a few may be benefiting from vouchers, nonpublic voucher schools don’t necessarily provide students and families with quality options.

Studies consistently show that private school vouchers don’t improve reading and math achievement. A recent study showed that the students in the Milwaukee voucher program do no better in reading or math than their peers in public schools. And sometimes the voucher students do worse. In Louisiana, 67 percent of public school students pass their standardized tests, whereas only 44 percent of voucher students do.

Help us oppose voucher schemes, thinly veiled as “school choice,” by sending a message to your senators urging them to oppose vouchers and support education priorities that benefit all children.

Erin Prangley By:   |   January 26, 2015

1 Comment

  1. […] Christ.” Efforts to funnel young people to private charter or voucher schools can too often leave behind children with disabilities or allow discrimination. And on top of that, study after study has shown that voucher programs just […]

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