Paul  Weyrich

Parents should be able to send their children to whichever school they desire — be it public, private or charter — using their tax dollars in the form of vouchers. If public schools were forced to compete in a marketplace that included private and charter schools there would be a quick improvement in their performance. Parents would pull their children from failing schools and place them in those with high standards and good teachers. Schools which fail to meet parents’ criteria and consequently see a rapid decline in their population would be forced to make necessary changes to compete with better schools or close.

As in any system, there are potential problems with vouchers — namely, that by allowing public dollars into private schools in the form of vouchers, public officials would insist on exercising some form of control over what is taught in private schools (i.e., religious instruction). If done at the local level, however, protections for private and religious education could be codified before the voucher program begins and the threat to religious instruction would be eliminated.

Overall, school-choice vouchers should be seriously considered and implemented at the local level. They would force schools to compete and improve. They would make parents much more active in their children’s education. (Parental passivity and inattention is currently a significant problem). Local communities themselves likely would be more active in education. They also could be designed to include specific safeguards for private schools and prevent interference in religious instruction.

Vouchers, along with other serious reforms, have the potential drastically to improve American education. Some states already are using vouchers and have met with good results. It will take courage and determination to resist the bureaucrats and teachers unions who want to maintain the status quo but it could be done.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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