Education Voucher Program’s Pros and Cons


The issue of voucher program has been a source of controversy between lawmakers and educators for several years. Providing parents an option to take their children to parochial or private schools with taxpayers’ money has been a major challenge of the voucher policy. This research paper discusses the merits and demerits of the voucher system and how it has shaped the education system in the US. The paper concludes by highlighting how the voucher program has showed a major role in understanding how government should help in establishing a balance between public managed and private schools to ensure equitable accountability and affordable education for all children’s.


A voucher is a kind of credit, which is given to willing parents that wants to move their children from a public managed to a choice of their desired private school. This credit sometimes emanates from a privae starting point for example, a charitable organization (Garland, 2009, p.94). Consequently, many of these vouchers sometimes comprises of moving taxpayers money from public coffers to private schools.

The voucher involves fixed amount of money that parents can contribute towards tuition fees for the private school that the child has been moved to. Moreover, where the tuition fee is much higher than the voucher fee, parent has to top up to make the difference. Sometimes, the voucher program allows parents who have taken their children to private institution to receive tax so that they can subsidize and aid their child private schooling (Garland, 2009, p.104).

Pros of voucher Programs

The voucher program has brought about more advantages to the society than perceived cons. This has been attributed to a number of factors. Finn, (2009, p.30) points out that parents the power to have aright to choose good school for their children to attend. The Parents strongly believe that, when a child moves from a public school to a private school, the money should move with the child. The factors, which have favored the voucher program, include;

Better Private school History

The voucher system has rekindled a new dimension in the education sector in the country. Private schools have been heralded as an alternative route of enriching the child with better education by having a well-packaged education system for developing the child wholly (Finn, 2009, p.39). This has been attributed to its history. Historically, Private schools have been associated with achieving commendable results in the mode of their teaching and imparting teaching facts, information and values to children unlike public schools.

Though they cost significantly, the cost is easily realized. People who posses’ means of affording the needed tuition fee will opt for private schools rather than public school.The measure of results coupled with reputation has been a success factor in private schools. Finn, (2009, p.39) notes that in private schools, the character of the child, academic success has been the motto. Private schools are much accountable because if they do not perform a superb work then liability of loosing enrollment is likely. This is unlike public schools where they will have many students despite of how badly they teach. Private school schedule is more flexible in relation of teaching methodologies; focus is always on teaching lifelong skill and values that are often linked to religion, for instance, working hard and respect among many other ethics (Finn, 2009, p.57).

Specialization in students

Moe (2001, p 56) explains that private schools contribute significantly to a child specialization. They provide students with facilities, which will enhance his or her future area career. For example, private institution will provide a student with needed expertise in sciences, sports, liberal arts and preparation for college among other activities. Moreover, college students are provided with many choices of schools to make their choice in order to continue with their education (Moe, 2001, p.67).

The choice is often characterized by schools’ reputation and the expertise of the student, for example if a student performance is good in technology, he or she can target Massachutes Institute of Technology for technology oriented career, and if he or she is best in sciences can opt for John Hopkins for medical related courses among other institution. By doing this, the students have a variety of options before he or she finally settle for a college of his or her choice (Moe, 2001, p.89). Parents also can easily identify talents in their children, which can be nurtured and developed as soon as it is realized.

Finn (2009, p, 143) explains how talent identification gives the school an incentive to concentrate and develop special character in the student in tandem with the student expertise and talent. Early identification of talent helps the private schools to enhance the child ability and helps to develop and mentor his or her future.

Better Competition for efficiency and results

The voucher system is a field where competition can yield better results. Most public schools in the country face mismanagement, corruption and inefficiency challenges. Peddle (2000.p.65) indicates that there has been incidences of teacher assisted cheating during exams. However, public education is the only option and affordable to many people, the competition from private schools would assist in reforming public system, which will help eliminate appeasement by teachers union and the government “fat cats” while sidestepping the student’s interests (Peddle, 2000.p.73). Competition will therefore compel improvement in the education sector, facilitate cost reduction, and restrict market resistance, which is evident in business environment. This is because monopoly will be eliminated i.e. Their will be much avenues to improve efficiency due to competition (Peddle, 2000.p.78). Emphasis will be placed in public schools about the value of hard work, respect and discipline among other important values for developing a student. These important virtues play a formidable role for shaping child ability on how well he or she can relate in the society thus promoting a society, which is ethical abiding.

Options for variety of schools

Stone (1997, p.56) notes that the voucher system provides an opportunity to empower the parents to choose a school which instills values which are in tandem with their own. This used was preserved privilege of only a few i.e. those who were rich and had money. With advent of vouchers, parents have option to decide which schools best fit their children or what they want there child to have.

Families have been alarmed with the erosion values that most public schools are associated with for example; “Columbine High school shooting”. Most private institutions have an opportunity to escape incidences of bureaucracy “red tape” like these ones (Stone, 1997, p.68). They offer an option that is centered towards the needs and preference of a given community. Public schools provide hidden assets by having an education system of instilling understanding in far ranging position i.e. freeing children is from fanatical and rigid framework of tradition, but when intolerance reigns, everyone is prone to loosing if children’s are allowed to be educated in an environment, which is homogeneous and insulated.

Public schools have been a solace for the poor and the minorities. More minorities and families who do not have much money to join private schools have tremendously risen in numbers in public schools (Stone, 1997, p.76). When parents have a choice of the type of school to send his child, it gives him authority and power because, he or she will be able to asses the school performance and have an informed option to pull his or her student out when the school doesn’t perform basing on his or her expectation and enroll him or her to a different school (Stone, 1997, p.87). This will actually either improve the school or make it to decline because of enrollment.

Proper Usage of Fund at state Educational Departments

The voucher program has facilitated efficient usage of funds which otherwise would have lied idle at the Department of Education and other government bureaucracy agencies (Stone, 1997, p.98). The private sector has been viewed as an avenue where under utilization of money is performed, they would easily rise to the helm and provide better outcome with these funds. Increase funding in private schools increases the results for the government. Because the government benefits from the outcome of the system by having professionals who would drive the work force of the economy and promote the country’s professionalism.

Choice of Religious and Non-religious schools

The voucher system establishes a choice to the parents about religion or non- religious schools (Peddle, 2000.p.89). The government therefore will not in any way be interfering with State and church relations.

Diversity of student population

Peddle (2000.p.107) says that the provision and making availability of private institution to everyone will create diversity. There is a clear discrepancy in income between the races-there are more whites in the upper income bracket as compared to other minority races such as the blacks, Hispanics and others. An expensive school has been seen as segregation to the society among those people who do not afford to pay (Peddle, 2000.p.112). The advent of vouchers ensures that diversity is created in all schools because income will not be a factor for anyone who is willing to join. Diversity ensures that universality in the education sector is harmonized hence establishing a mutual standard for the country to have a balanced and efficient system.


However, the voucher system has given more advantages to; schools, students and parents. Its application has affected how the education system in the country. A number of factors have contributed to its ineffectiveness and these factors include;

Violation of 1st amendment; church and state

Most of the schools, which fall under the voucher program, are 95% religious private schools (Thomas, 2007, p.63). The voucher program therefore has gone against the first amendment act, which stipulates clearly the separation of powers between the state and the church. Religious ideas has been perceived as invariably based and old teachings which lacks scientific proof, thus they do not merit belonging to classroom but find a place at home. Once the government funds religious schools, it might fund other religions and eventually the society will be dominated by religion (Thomas, 2007, p.68). The funding might lead to discrimination; against women, gays and other groups in the society. This subsequently can take away personal freedom.

Reduces Funding to public schools

A voucher system reduces financial support channeled to public schools, which in reality are already in financial crisis. This is the reason why most public schools performance is poor (Thomas, 2007, p.76). They cannot furnish and manage their increasing costs such as computers, books, teachers, security among other essential services. If private schools are subsidized, more money will be channeled from public schools and this will worsen the matter (Thomas, 2007, p.87).

Private Schools rigorous oversight

The voucher program has created a void between private and public schools. Public schools operate under stringent “government rules, regulation and oversight” (Thomas, 2007, p.87). Stone (1997, p. 99) illustrates that strict monitoring is checked and monitored about teaching methodologies and education system. Nevertheless, in private schools, there is no oversight and people wonder how private schools perform with no monitoring and control.

Talent/giftedness of students

Private schools performance maybe declined by students who are not gifted hence compromising the quality of education. Sometimes, the students who are enrolls in private schools are high performers’ or their parents are zealous to make sure that they succeed in their lives. Finn (2009,p.112) explains that parents who decides to take his or her child to a private school is sometimes influenced by her child talent and at the same time being motivated by the way private school nurture and dedicate time a child to enhance the child success.

Such parents do not want to waste their money and hence, if less or ungifted enters a school, teachers are compelled to work extra hard if it means extra time dedicated to the child to assist or discipline, this detracts the child from others in class (Finn, 2009,p.115).

Double Payment of taxes by parents

The voucher system has created space whereby parents who sends their children’s to private institutions pays twice e.g. paying their tax to public institution even when their children’s do not attend (Finn,2009,p.115). This has been an obstacle on the parent’s side. The taxes paid by the parent are used to finance public schools. Private schools levy tuition fee, by again receiving vouchers from the government, parents make double payment for their children’s education in such schools.

Discrimination among students

The voucher program has brought about discrimination in learning school. Though public schools do not show a phenomenon i.e. they accept every student and they do not base in disability, religion, test scores or other criteria; private schools on the other hand tend to show high degree of favoritism in choosing students to join their institution.

Admission criterions in private schools are not subjected to government scrutiny and therefore tend to be discriminative. Hence, they can favor or make admission criteria quite difficult for students who are poor (Finn, 2009, p, 124). This is directly opposite to public schools where the institution has to accommodate all calibers of students regardless of the challenges the student might present. All government funds that are channeled in the public institutions are safely kept with public schools that embrace these challenges unlike the private institution that may show favoritism (Finn, 2009, p, 127).

Benefit for the religious right and wealthy

The voucher system was marketed as a plan to aid the poor families and minorities (Moe, 2001, p.96). This has been a different case, the poor working class, minorities have been left out of the program hence the wealth, and the religious right have benefited. The wealthy have received tax credits to afford to take their children’s to private schools. The Christian rights have used their voucher programs to further their religious interest in religious education (Moe, 2001, p.101).

Some political parties purporting to fight for the welfare of the poor have in reality delivered the opposite. Political parties are often join “school unions and government agencies which are bloated and oppose vouchers for self made reasons” (Moe, 2001) The Christians on the other hand have been served with the voucher program but this only shows extend of the program wide appeal; the parents are given choices to decide and do what they think is right (Moe, 2001, p.104). The program has been seen as an alternative pay for the wealth.

Lack Transparency in private institutions

There is blatant lack of transparency in private institutions on how funds collected are spent. It is uncertain to understand if they will act responsibly. In most public schools, parents own the right to make demands concerning the program, file grievance and have their issues addressed (Thomas, 2007, p.96). A private school has no obligations whatsoever o accommodate individual complains. Though vouchers provide assistance about tuition fee, there are no constraints preventing private schools from increasing their tuition. Hence, they have the final say about how much they can charge during the child admission.

Depriving schools that need money most

The program will increase draining of money from schools, which need most funding. This is because parents will have an either opportunity to admit their children to school of their choice in private or public. Many challenges will still engulf recipients from fully utilizing the voucher (Thomas, 2007, p.97). Private institutions do not have obligations in accepting students and this would play a role of likelihood of rejecting students who have been perceived to have histories of unwanted behavior, disability and unstable family background.

Thomas (2007, p.143) points out how a dreadful condition is left at the rear in already “struggling” institutions whose “financial challenges” are exacerbate by voucher program.


Voucher program has been effective way of enhancing the education system in the country. This has been attributed to several factors such has parents have options to decide for their children, which school to attend, enhancing competition and encouraging specialization among students. However, its demerits have made the system to be discriminatory, improper control and management and relationship between the State and church.

In order for its effectiveness and balance, the voucher system should be tailored so that both strata of students, parents, state and church can have a boundary and strategically work hand in hand for its success and ultimately offer quality environment for students to learn and reach their future aspirations. Government should institute laws that would safeguard the poor and minority to ensure that students from different strata of the society benefit from the system.

Reference List

Finn, C. E., (2009). Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut.New York: Hoover Press.

Garland, J. C., (2009). Saving Alma Mater: a Rescue Plan for America’s Public universities. Chicago: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Moe, T. M., (2001). Schools, Vouchers, and The American Public. Washington Dc: Brookings Institution Press.

Peddle, M. T., (2000). Does Government need to be Involved in Primary and Secondary Education: Evaluating Policy Options Using Market Role Assessment. New York: Routledge.

Stone, D. A., (1997). Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making: New York: W.W. Norton.

Thomas, R.M., (2007). God in the Classroom: Religion and America’s Public Schools. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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