School vouchers are a bad idea

Anna Harrington

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Education savings accounts, a school voucher-style program, could be coming to Tennessee. A school voucher basically allows parents to take students out of their school and send them to any school of their choice. The parent is given money out of the school’s budget to pay for their student to go to a religious school or a charter school.

According to the Los Angeles Times, school vouchers don’t just undermine public schools, they undermine democracy. ESA’s, just like vouchers, would not help public schools and the 90% of America’s children who attend them. This is an expensive proposal that will hurt the vast majority of Tennessee’s students. There’s just no point to going through with it.

According to the Los Angeles Times, president Trump’s new budget proposal would make huge cuts to federal education spending. Most public schools don’t have enough money as is.

Now Governor Bill Lee wants to redirect state money from public schools to private schools. Similar to vouchers, these ESAs are trying to help, but inevitably will end up taking even more money out of schools, worsening the problems in public education.

There’s just no reason to take away from the majority in order to help the minority of students to attend private and religious schools. While most people believe private and charter schools are very prestigious, recent studies show the opposite may be true. Students often loose school time and perform worse in their new school.

According to the Center for American Progress on School Vouchers, an evaluation of the Washington D.C. “Opportunity Scholarship Program”, another voucher-style program, found that students attending voucher schools performed worse than they would have in their original public schools.

School vouchers are supposed to have positive effects, but if the effects are negative, then there’s no point to sending students to a school, using taxpayer money, where they do even worse. This has been up for debate in Tennessee before, but it has become a big part of recent discussions because not only is the governor of Tennessee pushing for school vouchers, but so is the Secretary of Education of the United States, Betsy DeVos.

Some argue that parents should have the freedom to choose their student’s school, but due to the consequences, that’s simply not a good idea. Parents should not be allowed to send their children to a school where there is a higher chance of the student performing worse, while also hurting public schools.

Also, keep in mind that private schools are very expensive, and it is unlikely that the voucher can cover the entire cost. The only people who would be able to use the school vouchers would be wealthy families. This would create something similar to segregation, where the “poor” students go to public schools and private schools would be for the “wealthy”. Public schools are very important to America.

They offer an equal and free education. But, like any other thing, public schools have problems. Governor Bill Lee is using vouchers as a “quick fix”, but they will inevitably fail. Instead of taking funding away from schools, Tennessee should work towards helping struggling schools.

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