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Vouchers and Accountability

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In an article on the rejection in congress of a plan to provide vouchers to disabled students, an anonymous AP author writes:

Democrats said the changes would strip money from public schools and offer no accountability to parents or the public about how well disabled students are served.

These are silly objections.

Yes, this plan would strip money from the public schools. But it would also strip the burden of educating a student from the public schools. Are there people who believe that funding for public schools should be provided even if no students actually attend?

I don't see how vouchers would fail to provide accountability to parents. Vouchers would give the ultimate veto over a child's education to the child's parents, as the parents could choose to remove the child from a school that does not meet their standards. I guess it's possible that "parents" refers to all parents, and not the specific parents of the child, but I don't see why parents who are not the child's parents should be offered accountability over a specific child's education, at least more so than other members of the public.

As to the public, I think that in a democratic society, we should have at least some control over the minimal standards of education that are given to children who will eventually become voters. But this can be accomplished by testing students, and using those tests to decide which schools get money.

In fact, I'd argue that the current system, in which there is no competition for education money, is the least accountable. Right now, it's very costly for a parent to hold public schools accountable by pulling their child. In a future where vouchers are prevalent and reliable, parents will be able to pull their children from a failing school, and place them in one that is succeeding. To me, that's the ultimate form of accountability.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-05-01 09:37

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Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2003 by Chris:

Less silly, more dishonest.

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