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What Are Vouchers?

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Paying for it

Paying for it

Photo © Heather Foley
Question: What Are Vouchers?
For decades parents have had no choice when confronted with a failing public school. Their only option was to continue sending their child to a bad school or move to a neighborhood which had good schools. Vouchers are an attempt to redress that situation by channeling public funds into scholarships or vouchers so that children have the option of attending private school. Needless to say, voucher programs have caused much controversy.
Answer: Vouchers are scholarships or payment for education at a private or parochial K-12 school.

Vouchers are another name for programs which offer parents the option to remove their children from failing public schools and enroll them in private schools. These programs take the form of vouchers or outright cash for private schools, tax credits, tax deductions and contributions to tax deductible education accounts.

Funding for vouchers comes from private and government sources. Government funded voucher programs are very controversial for two main reasons.

In 2010 there are currently two voucher programs operating: one in Cleveland, Ohio; the other in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1. In the opinion of some critics they raise the constitutional issues of separation of church and state when public funds are given to parochial and other religious schools.

2. For others the challenge to public education goes to the core of another widely held belief: that every child is entitled to a free education.

Against Vouchers

The National Education Association takes a stand against the use of any public funds, no matter how little, being spent on something other than public education.

The American Federation of Teachers takes a similar position. For the record, the NEA and the AFT are the nation's largest teacher unions.

For Vouchers

The argument for vouchers is straightforward: let my kids have a chance at a decent education by allowing them to go to a good local school without it costing me a fortune.

As to the argument that vouchers divert public funds from public schools, the amount of funding allocated to the voucher programs is very small.

More on Vouchers

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Private Schools
  4. Affording a School
  5. Private School Vouchers Overview

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