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The Problem With Education Vouchers is that Some Kids Don’t Belong in Private Schools

by Deborah Cruz

Okay, at the risk of sounding like a complete asshole, I want to discuss Education Vouchers. Our state has recently put into place a program that provides education vouchers for many children in the state to give them the financial ability to attend a private school of their choosing. Sounds awesome. Finally, children who were not wealthy could still have access to a private education.

I grew up poor but was always at the top of my class. I worked my ass off because my parents stressed the value of a good education. It was important to our family.Had the voucher program been in place when I was a kid, I could have gone to private school and received a more challenging education than what my public school education could provide.

My girls attend a private co educational school because we place value and importance on education. We are by no means wealthy but we made the choice to prioritize our girl’s educations over other things.We made the decision to sacrifice in other areas. We go without some things so the girls can get the best education we can provide for them. Unfortunately, even though we are not wealthy we also don’t qualify for the education voucher but I was still 100% in favor of education vouchers because if it could help one kid who needed it to get to an education they deserved, it was perfect.

Here is the problem, the education voucher was a great idea in theory prompted by people with seemingly good intentions but in fact, it is failing miserably, in my own personal experience. You see when you attend private school, there are usually a battery of entrance requirements; interviews, stipulations, testing. Parental involvement is a must and if it’s parochial, so is involvement in the church. At out school, the staff know al the parents because we volunteer on a regular basis. We see each other several times a week and we are in many ways, a family. But when you attend private school on an education voucher none of that applies. None of it. None.Of.IT!! I don’t think that is fair at all but that’s not here or there because fair is a luxury life doesn’t usually afford us. This is not me being an elitist snob this is me stating facts.

Every morning at drop off, I see kids whose parents took the voucher and forced their kids to attend private school. Some want to be there but others don’t. I don’t begrudge a parent for wanting better for their child but if you are going to go in, go all in and be involved with their kids education more than just dropping them off at school. They are not required to be involved in school activities like the parents of traditional students. At our school, traditionally it is required that the entire family be involved. There are requirements and expectations in place for both parents and students.

We oblige because we want the education for our children and we want to optimize the experience because we are invested ourselves, financially and personally. What bothers me is that the parents of the children attending on vouchers are not required to volunteer at the school or attend the church. Since the voucher went into effect, our school rating has fallen. I think it has a lot to do with uninvolved parents who are not invested in the program because they didn’t have to pay for it and in effect, children who take for granted what they’ve been given. It’s just not that important when you don’t have to earn it or pay for it.

I’m paying a lot of money in tuition for my kid to go to what is becoming a subpar school while these other parents send their child to the same school for free. We bust our ass to meet the stringent requirements as a family in order to attend the school. Meanwhile, the parents of the voucher students don’t have to do anything. My issue is not with the children, my issue is with the program. There needs to be equal admissions qualifications for all families, vouchers aside.There needs to be academic standards in place as criteria for admissions. Some sort of academic testing should be in place and there should be an interview process in which the parents are made aware of and held to the same standards as all the other parents and students.

I think financial need should be a qualification but there needs to be testing to make sure they deserve to be there; that they can keep up educationally and that they actually want to be there. If they don’t qualify then they shouldn’t get to attend the school; voucher or not. Why should the kids whose parents have worked their asses off to provide them with a great education and who have worked hard since kindergarten to be a part of the school, now have to accept the new lower standard in education excellence?

What do you think about kids being accepted into private schools simply because they qualify for free tuition through education vouchers?

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Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense 2014/01/15 - 4:51 pm

I think the community at the school should envelop the child and his family with love, support, and understanding, so that they too can learn the values you mention throughout your piece. Maybe they’ve never been exposed to those values; that kind of system probably seems like an alien planet to someone who’s never seen it before. I know I’m being idealistic, but… I kinda thought you were an idealist, too? 😉

Lisa 2014/01/16 - 12:34 am

I can see how you are looking at this through the lense of a parent who has sacrificed so that your children can attend a private school. However, maybe the parents who are sending their children on vouchers are scarificing just to get them there. I doubt you stopped to think that the voucher kids may have parents who both work full time, or more than one job, or even single parent households struggling to make ends meet. I doubt the uniforms, field trips, school supplies, and other expenses are covered with a voucher. Perhaps these kids are behind academically because they do not have the same resources to help them become sucessful? Perhaps the reason they fight their parents to go to that school is because they are being judged by people like you? I think that there are many struggling low income families that also want the best education possible for their children and are praying that your school can provide that for them. Is your answer to ship them back to pubic school -where they belong- or where it is acceptable to fail? Why not try to help create a sucessful environment with the new students so that they can achieve the high standards the private school has in place? I would hate to be in a “family” that judges kids who clearly need a little extra love and attention.

Rachel 2014/01/16 - 11:20 pm

Could not have said it better

Suniverse 2014/01/16 - 3:05 pm

We also send the girl to private school, and really do without. I think there has to be the same criteria for all students attending the school, and I say this as a family that gets a very nice financial aid package [ boarding school is stupid expensive]. We do what we can, even though we’re not in the same state. It’s important to me and to my daughter that we’re involved in her school.

Rachel 2014/01/16 - 11:18 pm

Because I could understand your frustration, you actually (mostly) had me up until, “[students who attend private parochial schools] are a different breed.”

ALL children, regardless of their circumstances, are capable of great humility and kindness. Special schooling is NOT a requirement for these qualities, believe me. You would do well to show some of that same humility and kindness to these kids who are probably finally getting a fighting chance in life. I’d say more, but another poster summed up everything else that I could possibly say.

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