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Voucher Talking Points
Special Section on Vouchers

Following are "talking points" that summarize arguments against vouchers.


Vouchers are a diversion. "Choice" sounds nice in theory but does nothing to address more pressing problems such as class size, teacher training, outdated and overcrowded buildings, and inequitable funding.

Vouchers are taxation without representation. Vouchers funnel public dollars to private schools, yet taxpayers have absolutely no say in how voucher schools are run. Further, private schools are not required to meet basic accountability standards, such as open meetings and records law, or to release test scores, dropout rates, and other basic information.

Vouchers are based on the marketplace, not the public good. Vouchers rest on the assumption that the marketplace holds the answer to complicated educational and social problems. This assumption has proven false in many other key areas, such as health care, housing, and jobs. Ultimately, a marketplace approach always favors those with more money and resources.

Vouchers stand in opposition to our democratic vision. Education is an essential prerequisite for full participation in society. Vouchers foster narrow self-interest, individual choice, and an escape mentality. Yet democracy, at its heart, is about working together for what is best for all children.

Vouchers violate the separation of church and state. At a time when world events from Bosnia to the Middle East underscore the importance of church/state separation, it is more important than ever that we abide by the constitutional safeguards that have guided this country for more than 200 years.

Vouchers are about privatization, not opportunity. Vouchers are at the heart of the right-wing attack on public institutions -- an attack which seeks to reduce government responsibility for the good of all while maximizing government support for private and corporate gain.

Vouchers siphon off money needed by public schools. Politicians are not talking about using vouchers to increase the amount of money devoted to education reform. They are merely shifting money from public schools to private schools.

Voucher schools can cream off "desirable" students and leave those they don't want for the public schools. In particular, private schools tend not to provide needed services for children with special educational needs or for children who speak English as a second language. It's the private school that chooses the student, not the other way around.

Vouchers schools may increase segregation. The first vouchers schools in this country were set up to allow white students to flee integrated schools in the South. In many cities, private schools tend to be highly segregated and are used by some white parents to avoid desegregation.

Private schools do not have to respect the constitutional rights of students. Private schools, by their very nature, do not have to adhere to public mandates such as guaranteeing students the rights to due process and free speech. In Milwaukee, voucher schools have refused to sign agreements that they will adhere to such constitutional protections.