Once vouchers are widespread, we can expect the education establishment, especially the teachers' unions, to find ways to turn the program to its advantage. It won't have to look far for ideas. Several years ago the New Democrat, published by the Democratic Leadership Council and Progressive Policy Institute (the "moderate" Democrats with whom Bill Clinton has long been associated and an organization started by my brother-in-law), recommended that any voucher program force private schools to admit all children and "meet or exceed specified performance standards to continue receiving taxpayer funds".
The editorial, titled "Counterpunching on Vouchers," stated: "Such an amendment would effectively turn voucher-supported private schools into public charter schools. A public school is not defined by who 'owns' it, but rather by two features: universal access and accountability to the public for results." In other words, voucher money is a foot in the door for the "educrats."
If vouchers contain this potential danger, what can be done to help get kids out of dismal government schools? A better alternative is a tax credit for any parent who pays for private schooling or anyone else who helps put child through non-government schools.
Of course, to us libertarians, the best idea is to separate school and state altogether.
How would parents afford tuition? Well, they'd have more money if they weren't taxed so heavily to pay for incompetently run government schools. Already, many private schools do a better job than government schools for half the cost. Throughout Africa, parents far poorer than Americans pay to send their children to for-profit schools. For Americans who truly lack tuition money, private charity would help, as I do through the wonderful nonprofit, Student Sponsor Partners.
Education is too important to be left to government. The freer parents and entrepreneurs are, the more innovative American schooling will be -- and the more kids will learn.