Parents whose children are in failing schools could benefit from school voucher programs, which give them some measure of choice over their children’s education. A school voucher program allows parents of students who qualify for the program the option to attend a non-public school instead of their public school, with the state stepping in to pay the cost of tuition. The goal of this program is two-fold. First, it gives parents in struggling school districts who cannot afford tuition in private schools an option to turn to in order to get their kids quality education. Second, it provides competition for those struggling schools, providing further motivation for the school personnel to improve their programming and the results they provide.
Benefits of Voucher Programs
Voucher programs give parents control over their children’s education, no matter what their economic standing is. This is one of the primary benefits, as it allows parents to make choices for their children, rather than being stuck in a cycle of poorly performing schools. It also provides the benefit of giving schools motivation to continue performing well, as parents will be able to remove their children if the school is failing.
Potential Drawbacks of Voucher Programs
While voucher programs seem like a good way to improve the education offered to children in struggling school districts, opponents of the plans raise some concerns. School staff in struggling schools often point out that it is not entirely the school’s fault that they are doing poorly. Poor parent involvement, lack of motivation on the part of the students, and socioeconomic factors all play a role in how well or poorly students do in school, and these are factors that school staff cannot control. No amount of teacher motivation can replace parental involvement. Taking kids out of these schools and putting them into private schools will only improve the situation if those kids have involved parents and different socioeconomic factors.
Similarly, voucher programs automatically starve struggling schools from much-needed funds. Those funds make it even more difficult for them to hire great teachers and continue to do the job they need to do wit the students they still have. In a way, vouchers could condemn struggling schools to complete failure.
Finally, parents often assume that a private school is going to give a better education than a struggling public school, but this is not always the case. Parents may place their children in a participating private school without doing the necessary research to ensure that it is actually a good school. This could hurt the educational outlook for these children even more than leaving them in the school they are currently attending.
Parents who are in areas that have a voucher program should do research to ensure that the school they choose gives their child the best possible education. Then, they should remain involved in the child’s schooling, encouraging the child to perform well, no matter where they go to school. Finally, they should work with teachers to make the most of the school years for their children.
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