by Locker Room contributor
First, I think it says a lot about JLF that we do and can disagree about important policy issues, such as school choice.
really like the “idea” of school vouchers. However, in practice,
I don’t think it will work unless we want government control of private
and homeschool education.
I’m not convinced that there aren’t
possible ways around the regulatory problem (possibly a very narrowly
crafted constitutional amendment), but I doubt it. I wrote this
quickly so please bear that in mind.
I want to address some of Lindalyn’s well-made points:
The fact that regulation already is imposed on private education (and
DPI wanted to regulate private education) are arguments against
vouchers, not for vouchers. The government feels empowered to
regulate even when there is not even an indirect relationship between
the government and private education. Imagine what will happen
when there are vouchers.
2) The voting public hasn’t been
able to stop the education mess that exists now–why should we expect
the public to stop government control of all education. I agree
that many people will and have helped to stop government control, but
private and home-school education always will be on the defensive–at
some point, and in only takes one enacted bill, there will be a
loss. Good luck trying to get rid of government control once it
exists–it won’t happen.
3) The voting public will act
accordingly–it will legitimately demand that when money is spent on
education, the schools, even the private schools, should be held
4) One only has to look at what is happening to
higher education to see how vouchers will be the government’s excuse
for control of education. Take the money–pay the
consequences. Secretary of Education Spellings and the
Administration (all likely school-choice advocates) are arguing
for more accountability from all institutions of higher education,
including private colleges. They even want to track all students
(like is done on the K-12 level). The recent panel recommended
uniform testing. The government wants better consumer information
and measurable learning outcomes. When school-choice advocates
make the accountability arguments themselves, even in higher education,
then I think it is fair to assume that it will happen to private K-12
education (which doesn’t even come close to the quality of our nation’s
higher education system).
5) Technically, vouchers are
voluntary–practically, they are mandatory. What private school
can possibly compete without accepting students that have
vouchers? If a private school didn’t accept vouchers, the bad
public relations, probably from school-choice proponents, would coerce
them into accepting vouchers.
6) Finally, I want to address Clint
Bolick’s statement “The position of school-choice critics is akin to
resisting the demise of communism because the free markets that would
emerge might be subjected to government regulation. This is hardly a
Actually, using the metaphor, the critics are not resisting the
demise of communism. They are trying to ensure that in the small
place where freedom does exist, the communists aren’t given the ability
to impose their will.