Vouchers

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Libertarians claim to prefer vouchers to direct government provision. But they do so for ideological reasons, not because vouchers are the best method. Some voucher programs (such as food stamps) work well, but direct provision works better for many other goods.

Vouchers are considered by libertarians to be a partial step towards complete privatization, including eliminating all government funding and regulation of schools.

Links

AFT School Vouchers index [More...]
The American Federation Of Teachers has good summaries of the issues surrounding vouchers.
No Discount: Comparing the Public Option to the Coupon Welfare State [More...]
A study of the advantages and disadvantages of vouchers, as opposed to direct public provision. "Vouchers take citizens democratically finding solutions to problems and turn them into consumers bidding on goods in a market. Finding solutions in a public space emphasizes accountability, voice, transparency, rules and claims through reasoning that goes beyond the self. The private market emphasizes cost-benefit thinking, exit, closed proprietary profit-seeking strategies, bargaining and the satiation of individual wants."
On negative effects of vouchers [More...]
Recent research on statewide voucher programs in Louisiana and Indiana has found that public school students that received vouchers to attend private schools subsequently scored lower on reading and math tests compared to similar students that remained in public schools. The magnitudes of the negative impacts were large. These studies used rigorous research designs that allow for strong causal conclusions.
School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Evidence from the Louisiana Scholarship Program [More...]
"This comparison reveals that LSP participation substantially reduces academic achievement. Attendance at an LSP-eligible private school lowers math scores by 0.4 standard deviations and increases the likelihood of a failing score by 50 percent. Voucher effects for reading, science and social studies are also negative and large."
Sweden’s School Choice Disaster [More...]
"Advocates for school choice might be shocked to see how badly the country’s experiment with vouchers failed." Provides a balanced look at international performance of Charter Schools and public schools.
Vouchers in Sweden: Scores Fall, Inequality Grows [More...]
"Interest in the subject had been piqued by several developments including the dramatic growth in private school enrollments and a fairly precipitous decline in Swedish performance on international tests. Results in reading, science, and mathematics had fallen at all grade levels from 1995 to the present in the international studies."

Quotations

Buchanan proposed that Virginia could finesse the question of full compliance with Brown and avoid leaving the impression that the state wished to revert to crude Jim Crow standards of race privilege. Buchanan’s innovative solution was the introduction of school vouchers... On paper, at least, Buchanan was advocating a market-based, seemingly race-neutral policy solution. In effect, however, it allowed for the continued perpetuation of segregation. For example, Virginia’s Prince Edwards County shuttered its public schools in 1959 while doling out vouchers to students who attended private schools that only accepted white children. As a result, black children in Prince Edwards County went without formal education for more than five years.
Andrew Hartman, "The Master Class on the Make"