According to Helen V. Giraitis, Member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board:
AWhen a consumer is dissatisfied with the service in a restaurant or the quality of goods in a store, she takes her business and money elsewhere. Any store losing its business will be forced to either shape up or go bankrupt. Parents who feel their children=s education is unsatisfactory, nonetheless, are not able to take back their taxes. Public schools have figuratively taken our nation=s children hostage.@
Today we are here to address the topic of school vouchers and the positive results that will follow if our plan is adopted. This plan will absolve the neglect in our current school system while allowing equal opportunities for all students.
Thus, RESOLVED THAT: The State of Illinois should adopt a policy of school vouchers to improve education.
These definitions are necessary to explain before giving our case.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary:
School vouchers- redirect the flow of education funding, channeling it directly to individual families rather than to school districts. This allows families to select the public or private school of their choice and have all or part of the tuition paid.
Public school- an elementary or secondary school in the United States supported by public funds and providing free education for children of the community or district.
Private school- a secondary or elementary school run and supported by individuals or a corporation rather than by a government or public agency.
SIGNIFICANT HARM 1: We have three main harms which stem from the current public education system
SIGNIFICANT HARM 1A: Students academic performances have gradually decreased over time
The National Center for Policy Analysis and CEO America home webpage of Friday, May 22, 1998 dictates:
ASeventy-eight percent of fourth graders tested below basic proficiency in reading in 1994 and eighty percent of eighth graders tested below basic proficiency in math in 1996.@
SIGNIFICANT HARM1B: High school drop out rates are high
According to ASchool Choice Debate@ of the 1997 CQ Researcher:AA 1990 RAND Corporation report showing that 95% of all students who attend Catholic Schools in New York City graduated. By contrast, only 25% of New York public school students received their high school diploma.@
SIGNIFICANT HARM 1C: students do not receive proper preparation for college studies or real life situations
According to Madeleine Kunin, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Education:
AParents seek to give their children a common core of skills, knowledge, and basic values that will equip an entire generation for a happy and productive life. YBut throughout America, too many children are still shunted into special programs that are designed to make their school years easier, but in fact, make their adult lives much harder.@
SIGNIFICANT HARM 2: Low income families can=t give their children equal learning opportunities
ASchool Choice Debate@ by David Maschi in the 1997 CQ Researcher states:
AA recent poll commissioned by the American Education Reform Foundation found that 61% of all low income residents of Washington D.C. would send their children to a private school if money were not the issue.@
SIGNIFICANT HARMS 3: The current educational system does not provide a safe learning environment.
The Issues section of the ASchool Choice Debate@ article in the 1997 CQ Researcher notes:
AWith the drugs, the gangs and the violence, it=s hard for kids to learn in that environment.@
INHERENCY 1: In Illinois you must go to the school in your district or pay a private tuition
1A. According to the Digest of Educational Statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics:
Illinois has an educational policy of compulsory public school attendance for ages 7-16.
(This demonstrates the structural barrier to implementing school vouchers)
INHERENCY 2: There is a wide acceptance of the belief that church and state should remain separate
2A. According to the article by Dennis P. Doyle on AVouchers for Religious Schools@ in the Spring of 1997 issue of The Public Interest:
ASeparation of church and state that is an old honored tenet of the American constitutional and political tradition. Indeed separating church and state is good for the church and good for the state. Both are more vital for it.@
(This shows that the nation is not willing to accept school vouchers because they claim it breaks the tradition of separation of church and state.)
1. Increase overall student scholarship
B. Implement a voucher system which will increase competition amongst schools which will lead to higher standards for education
B. Placing higher all state academic standards on the schools
1. Increase educational opportunities for low income families
C. Provide them with vouchers which allow them to pick the school of their choice
D. Provide voucher transportation
2. Make schools safer
E. Bringing students out of their violent atmosphere will foster safer environments in the classroom
F. Enact an alcohol/drugs/weapons prevention program in all schools, an extension to dare
(Now I have shown the goals of our plan, I would like to talk about the mechanisms through which they will be accomplished)
MECHANISM: (The mechanisms through which our plan will be implemented include_
3. State legislation
k. must vote in the voucher program
2. Illinois Board of Education
l. sets higher standards for education
4. Private/Public Schools
m. provide enforcement of the standards for education
n. provide prevention programs against student harms
(Next, I will move on to present how these institutions will work together to make the voucher system plausible)
5. The state legislation will propose a bill regarding school vouchers. We will then campaign to motivate the public in our favor.
6. Illinois Board of Education will set higher standards for teachers and students by increasing basic skill testing
7. Public schools will provide transportation for the underprivileged students, set up a drug/alcohol/violence prevention program through the state police.
(Hence, by setting up programs, instilling a voucher system, and setting higher expectations for students and teachers, we will attack the significant harms of the status quo that I addressed earlier.)
An article in the November 10, 1998 New York Times states:
AThe issue of vouchers has been waged with great passion across the nation. In recent years as its proponents argue that the poor should have alternatives to unresponsive and ineffective public schools.@ This is one of the many things that will be solved if a voucher system is implemented. Our plan solves the education deficiencies as well. Next, I will describe how are plan will work.
1. Voucher systems have already been proven to work in other states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington D.C.
2. In other states, voucher students had reading scores 3 percentile points higher and math scores 5 percentile points higher, on the average, in their third years.
3. Cost is not an issue since schools save money on not having to pay for the students which go to another school.
(Obviously, our plan will work quite simply. School vouchers have already begun to work in other states. We must follow their lead.)
According to Brief Analysis 264 of the National Center for Policy Analysis and CEO America:
In a study done on students who participated in school choice, it was found
AThey had reading scores 5 percentile points higher and math scores 12 percentile points higher, on the average, in their fourth year.@
SOLVENCY HARMS 1B:
It makes sense to say that if students grades go up, then they will be more motivated to stay in school.
SOLVENCY HARMS 1C:
According to Brief 241:
AStudents with the opportunity to choose a private school tend to have a higher college graduation rate than do students from public schools.@
SOLVENCY HARMS 2:
AA New Vision for City Schools@ from The Public Interest, Winter 1996 edition states:
AIn 1990, Wisconsin passed innovative legislation that would expand parental choice among low-income parents in Milwaukee. Families who met income criteria (18,000 or less) were given a state voucher for $2,987, which they might use in either a public school or a participating private school. By the end of the 1994-95 school year, there were 1500 children participating in the program that involved 12 nonpublic schoolsY.By next year, 15,000 students are expected to participate.@
SOLVENCY HARMS 3:
According to the article AA proposal in Support of School Vouchers@ by Helen Giraitis.
AFurthermore, the current system encourages destructive behaviors which vouchers can reverse. John Everhart points out that the federal government and New York City encourage wealthy popel to move to the suburbs by making them pay twice for school B public-school taxes and private school tuition (which is not tax deductible).@
(It has been demonstrated that our plan will provide solvency for our harms. I will now discuss the advantages of our plan.)
G. School vouchers will lead to increased educational competition amongst schools which will improve their overall standards.
H. Higher standards for education will lead to a improved society overall since the people will, in general, be better educated and thus ready for the real world.
I. Poor children will have the opportunity for a better education.
J. Crime rates will drop by moving underprivileged children into better schools because they will feel a better sense of worth and not feel the need to choose crime as an option.
(Now that I have covered the advantages, I will now refute some of the negative=s claims regarding a school voucher system.)