School Voucher System Research Paper

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School Voucher System

School voucher grants by the governments serve the purpose of improving educational standard of the children who belong to low-income families. This system is aimed to provide school tuition that can be paid to both public and private schools. The inspiration behind school vouchers system is to present to parents an open choice of educational institutions and approaches for their children. Another idea behind this system is to pressurize public schools to compete with the private schools and provide a better educational culture for their students. In the United States of America, the first school-voucher program was instituted in 1990 in Milwaukee, Wis., that was funded by the state. Later in 1995, a federal bill was proposed to set up pilot school-voucher plans in twenty six cities ("school vouchers").

However, school vouchers (also known as opportunity scholarships) have been a hot issue since their system's inception. According to the critics of this concept, this system can eventually destroy the American public-school system if applied extensively. The federal authorities failed to deal with the matter of the constitutionality of taxpayer-financed vouchers in 1998 when the Supreme Court decided to avoid the assessment of a state court ruling that advocated the use of vouchers in Milwaukee. By the end of the twentieth century, a mixture of voucher programs were being put into operation in thirty-one American states and about 65,000 students utilized this system. As a matter of fact, there is no undeniable substantiation that the vouchers usage by the low-income families has improved the education of students, either at private or public schools. Similarly, it is also not clear whether poor educational results are the blunder of the schools or the consequence of other reasons ("school vouchers").

School voucher systems are of different kinds. However, all of them are engaged in paying state or federal money to the parents/guardians of private school children in order to make up for the price/fee of tuition, books, or other educational everyday expenditures. In general, such systems offer tuition vouchers to any parent who want his/her child to go to a private school, religious or else. The voucher proponents support the idea that such reforms have a great tendency to help schools achieve academic excellence. However, it is important for the private schools to essentially meet minimum standards that are being established by the legislatures for the acceptance of voucher recipients. These standards are different in each state and may require the participation of schools to "administer state assessments, receive accreditation from an accreditation agency or publish voucher student performance data" ("School Choice: Vouchers").

Strictures for student eligibility have also been proposed by the legislatures that usually target subgroups of students. These include low-income students that meet a particular income threshold, students who go to constantly low performing schools, disabled students, or students belonging to military families or foster care. Thus, legislators put eligibility prerequisites for students and grant vouchers, as a rule, to the students who either have a definite household income or who have exceptional needs ("School Choice: Vouchers").

How School Vouchers Affect Academic Outcomes?

School vouchers could have an effect on the academic outcomes in four main ways. Firstly, the competition induced by the voucher system can play a major role in the improvement of teaching standards and associated services. Secondly, vouchers could result in superior independence and self-sufficiency in the school sector (principally by increasing the number of private schools). According to the advocates of voucher system, this can result ultimately in the improvement of school services as schools with greater self-sufficiency are more reactive to the needs and requests of students and parents. Thirdly, vouchers can help in the redistribution of resources between public and government schools and also between affluent and deprived private schools. This effect of resources can have repercussions for the levels of educational and intellectual achievement. Last but not the least, greater categorization and segregation on account of academic ability and socio-economic status can be caused by the vouchers (Macintosh & Wilkinson x). This sorting can eventually "drag down the average level of academic achievement and lead to greater inequality in student outcomes because of 'peer effects' (i.e. The notion that the composition of a school's student body has an influence on individual student outcomes)" (Macintosh & Wilkinson x).

How School Vouchers Affect Non-Academic Outcomes?

The school voucher system can consequently result in schools offering a variety of non-academic services for students that are more directly associated with the parental preferences. A…

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