There are a plethora of reasons why education in America is mediocre. We can argue that teacher unions care more about personal benefits than teaching kids, that the information taught in America is far less advanced than the information taught in other nations, or even that America is not fostering a culture where the youth even value education. Whichever argument is posited, it is evident that the American education system is failing its students; and, unless changes are made, it will also fail its prospective students.
But instead of rambling on and on about the status quo, real solutions should be formulated. It would be important to note that the U.S. spends more than any other nation on education, yet we still yield lower test scores, and rank lower in many STEM fields.
Thus, a great solution would find a way to increase the quality of education, while at the same time making it more cost-effective and efficient. I believe that the answer lies in school vouchers that would be provided for students by local, public school districts.
The Case of School Districts Providing Vouchers
I argue that school districts should be providing the vouchers because school districts solely exist for the sake of educating students; therefore, it is the responsibility of the school districts’ committee members to do anything they can to improve the education of students: A district-provided voucher would signify the district’s acknowledgement of a student’s need to attain an education and an interest in investing into that student’s future and quality of education. I believe that if a district were not to provide vouchers, it would indicate that the district bureaucrats only care about getting elected and re-elected rather than the education of the students in their districts.
Now the question remains as to whether or not school vouchers actually make education more cost-effective, and the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’
In an article titled Does it Add Up? by Thomas Sowell, a situation is provided in which we have a school district that spends $8,000 per student, and $4,000 per voucher for every student who chooses to leave that district. For simplicity, let’s say that the district had exactly 100 students. Each year, it would cost the district $800,000 to educate all 100 students. Now if just one student left the district with a $4,000 voucher, the cost of educating the remaining 99 would be $792,000. When you add in the $4,000 for the lone student, the overall cost to the district would reduce from $800,000 to $796,000. Now keep in mind that this is only one student, if and when more students continue to claim their vouchers, the cost of educating the remaining students in the district would continue to decrease.
We can take this situation a step further in order to argue that the amount of money available to spend per student would increase.
Previously, $800,000 could only yield $8,000 per student for a district with 100 students. Now if 50 students left the district and claimed their $4,000 voucher, the cost to the district would be $200,000, with a remaining $600,000 to spend on 50 students. From here, simple mathematical division reveals that there would be an increase from $8,000 per student, to $12,000. As is evident from the math, school vouchers are a method that provides a pathway to an affordable and quality education for students leaving public schools, while even increasing the amount of money available for students already attending public schools.
Now the concept and effect of school vouchers would absolutely work in the real-world. Since I live in LA, I will use the LAUSD as an example. The public school district has around 750,000 students, and an expenditure of about $12,000 per student. With these conditions, it costs the LAUSD approximately $9 Billion to educate these students. But if the LAUSD offered $6,000 per voucher, and half of the students left the district, the total cost of educating the remaining students is $6.75 billion. In addition, one would find that the cost available per student would rise from $12,000 to $18,000. Generally, educating students would be more cost-effective if school vouchers were utilized in all public school districts.
Common Arguments Against Vouchers
A common argument against school vouchers is that the vouchers themselves would not be sufficient enough to pay for an education elsewhere. This argument completely disregards basic economics. If vouchers were not enough to pay for a non-public education, then only alternative forms of education would be hurt. Private, voucher, and charter schools would all fail and shut down if their tuition rates were too high. A probable result would be that non-public schools would have to actually compete and lower tuition in order to remain solvent, otherwise face the consequences. Perhaps it can even be deduced that opponents who employ this argument are actually justifying the increased price of a voucher, yet none would ever support that.
Another argument against school vouchers is that they hurt public schools. They claim that students would want to leave public schools and the districts would have to divert funding away from education to marketing in order to attract students. Essentially, opponents argue that public schools would suffer due to the number of students that would leave. To this, I respond with a simple “Well, duh.” The whole point of school vouchers is to get students to acquire other means of education that are not available in public school districts. In reality, public schools may not be the best education for every single student in America. School vouchers would give parents and students more liberty to find an education that’ll work for them.
A Path Forward
Overall, school vouchers are a perfect compromise to solve America’s education problem. They provide a means to finally get competition involved in education. This way, schools that yield substandard test scores and below average students will finally be thrown out and only the successful schools will prevail. Furthermore, school vouchers will provide more money for school districts. As shown before in the examples, when more students take school vouchers, there will be more money available to spend per student in a single district. This aspect of school vouchers will satisfy leftists who believe students will excel in education if only more money was spent on them. Evidently, school vouchers are not even an extreme solution, they are the compromise, and ultimately, the balm to America’s education woes.
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