A Voucher System to End School Indoctrination & Preserve Freedom
“Education spending will be most effective if it relies on parental choice and private initiative—the building blocks of success throughout our society.” ―Milton Friedman
Universal Education with a Twist of Freedom
Imagine that it costs $10,000 per year to educate a student in your state. Also, imagine that schools are no longer being funded by receiving money based on how many students were enrolled last year at the school (in many states this is known as Average Daily Attendance, or ADA). What if there were a new model in use? Under this new, voucher-based model, all schools must now compete for students.
How Vouchers Would Work
Here is how vouchers would work: Parents would receive one $10,000 voucher for each school-aged child in their household. The parents get to decide which school, or schools, will receive these vouchers. Schools that have been run as public schools in the past play by the same rules as private schools, from now on. They must attract students by competing for them. They can advertise more certified teachers on staff, or a strong math program, or special classes in robotics. . . .
Since the money is tied directly to the students, schools must compete for students in terms of both quality and price. Some schools might offer a quality education with a $1,000 rebate to the parents in order to compete. Other schools might cost more than $10,000, with the parents paying the overage out of pocket; schools like this might offer value-added programs, such as language immersion in Russian, Mandarin, or Hebrew, for example.
The average price per student that it costs to send young adults off to college could also be computed. Let us say that the average amount of money the state spends to subsidize a college student is also $10,000 a year. These vouchers could be issued to every student receiving an acceptance letter to an institution of higher education.
An educational institution could even decide to accept vouchers from other states, if it wanted to do so. The same principle would apply. Schools could decide to add money to the price of education above what the voucher would pay, or they could offer rebates if they so desired.
Breaking the Stranglehold of Leftist Indoctrination
One value-added advantage to this voucher system is the fact that, by empowering parents and students in this way, schools would have to be more responsive to their demands. The way things are now, parents without much money are locked into sending their kids to schools that receive their money directly from the government. This means the schools must teach what the government tells them to teach. In today’s world of liberal activism, schools are being told to indoctrinate the students to become liberal collectivists.
If, instead, parents were the ones giving the schools their money, schools would no longer have to follow strictly what the government programmed for them to teach, but what parents wanted them to teach instead. No doubt, there would be schools advertising special programs in teaching the original intent of the Constitution and Founding Principles as a part of their curriculum.
There might also be schools that teach a more left-wing curriculum, and some parents might want that, too. But there would no longer be a government stranglehold on every single public-school curriculum in about 90% of the States of the Union, like the one that President Obama’s Department of Education has brought into existence with Common Core, a government curriculum that teaches leftist ideals almost exclusively.
Past Problems & How Vouchers Solve Them
In the past, the government has given benefits to students through the educational institutions they attend. For example, student loan money is awarded to colleges and universities, and from these institutions the money is disbursed to students.
What this has led to has been an increase of 8% per year, on average, over the last 50 years, in the cost of a college education. This is because the colleges, knowing that they will be the means of getting the money to the students, announce yearly to the government that their costs are increasing in order to get even more money than last year from the government coffers. So, they actually raise tuition and fees in order to show the government that more money is needed for the students.
The students, of course, once they qualify for the loans, give the money to their colleges. So, this is a scam that is ongoing to this day. And what it means is that the price of higher education has gone up way beyond the average yearly inflation numbers. And it also means that student debt has reached record levels, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, or GDP.
By tying money to individuals, and allowing them to shop around from college to college, prices would, necessarily, start to come down. Or, if a college or university did not want to lower its price, it would have to demonstrate how what it offered was more valuable than what other institutions of higher learning offered.
More Freedom & Less Corruption
In the end, parent and student choices would influence the schools to reflect what parents and students want. Schools would no longer act as agents of a government that wants to proselytize from the left to all Americans. In other words, vouchers would mean freedom to choose.
If parents wanted conservative values in the school—whether it be elementary, secondary, or post-secondary in its mission—the school would have to provide those kinds of values. This would mean conservatives would stand a much better chance of getting hired into the nation’s schools—especially when it comes to higher education—in roughly the same numbers as liberals. The market would have to respond to client demands much more than government dictates. And this would provide a stronger basis for civil society and a world much freer of government intrusion and corruption.