Young Democrats

While conceptually, the educational freedom promised by school vouchers seems promising, the reality is that in application, the voucher system is completely unable to deliver on its lofty goals. Vouchers run counter to religious liberty as promised in the First Amendment: they divert public taxpayer money to religious institutions as 75% of private schools are religiously affiliated according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, these public funds are supporting educational institutions that are free to deny admission to students based on any criteria they like, including religion, disability or language ability. The majority of citizens don’t even want this program. Since 1967, 23 states’ constituents have failed measures for voucher programs and tax aid to private schools. The greatest issue with vouchers, however, is that they undermine opportunities for low-income and minority students. Capitalism is fun in theory, but most voucher programs do NOT cover the full cost of tuition and fees for private schooling, and also don’t take into account commute time and cost, ignoring accessional freedom promised by ability. Only high-income students get to take part in this inherently flawed and exclusive capitalist fantasy of “educational competition,” while students in poverty are further pushed to the margins. When vouchers are implemented, local public schools – so-called “bad” schools – are still often the only accessible educational institutions for low-income communities, and then they are promptly shut down. Instead of giving these students opportunities, vouchers are undermining the very institutions they rely on. The solution is to help struggling schools and taking into consideration why they are struggling, instead of abandoning at-risk communities. Voucher programs enable politicians to ignore real educational issues like class size, funding, and teacher salary. There is no valid reason to siphon money away from the public schools that 91% of US students attend, according to the Department of Education, and pour it into unregulated religious institutions that do nothing to increase educational accessibility.