“[T]raditional public schools are not succeeding. In fact, let’s be clear, in many cases, they are failing. That’s helped people become more open to what were once considered really radical reforms—reforms like vouchers, tax credits, and education savings accounts.” 2013. – Betsy Devos
Everyone wants to be on the winning team. There’s no difference in education. Public education hasn’t been supported, funded or allowed the autonomy of innovation as radical reforms seen through school choice. School vouchers are a resource that can help parents and students enter the school of choice they desire. However, I believe the hype about vouchers really forces us to look at equity within our school districts and school choice. This in depth look must go beyond the surface and really flush out the issues addressed in the Brown vs the Board of Education.
Systemically, educational institutions have had the biggest battle of equity in regards to how it services students who are not of the status quo because of race, religion, sexuality and those with physical and learning disabilities.
Higher performing schools whether private, public, public Charter, virtual or magnet schools should have opportunities for all families regards of income, race, religion, sexuality or learning ability should be provided the opportunity to attend schools in their community or their school of choice.
I can recall a story about a parent wanting to enroll her children in a Charter school within her community. The lottery for enrollment began at 2:00 p.m. and there was no evening option. This is a good example of the opportunity being made available but not the resources. The hype isn’t the method of vouchers, it’s the intentional methods of how it’s made equitable.
Here are some myths about school vouchers:
- Vouchers are used to create religious schools
- Vouchers are used to close failing schools
- Vouchers are used for high achieving students only
- Vouchers are used to help school perform better
I have heard parents in various ares of Atlanta say, “We have a Charter school within our community, are number 312 on the waiting list and live next door to the school.” Here’s the double jeopardy of school choice. A lot of parents, even Educators, have so many assumptions and misconceptions about school vouchers. One of the misconceptions is that children who live in the area automatically are allowed into schools that offer an alternative choice to their traditional, public school without any process. Regardless if it’s a traditional, charter, virtual school, etc., there is a registration or enrollment process . For charter schools, many have a lottery system where other schools that offer a different choice have a lottery and voucher system that’s used. I recommend Educational advocates and leaders to connect information, resources and training to the work of family and community engagement in order for more stakeholders to be come informed and educated on school choice and the process. There are many families that can utilize this resource and don’t know how to take advantage of it or that it’s even available to them.
At the end of the day, we must remember and realize that every child has the right to a quality education, resources to succeed academically that meet any of their physical, mental, emotional, behavior disabilities, challenges, gifts or needs. If school vouchers allow this to happen, the by all means, please admit one.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.