Readers’ views on school vouchers

A few days ago, we asked for your thoughts on a plan floated by several Republican state legislators to expand the state’s school voucher program.

Thomas Billing, a retired Springfield educator, argued against: “School vouchers are nothing more than an attempt to destroy public education by the GOP. Since the majority of educators are liberals, this is probably a root cause. The party that is anti-choice is suddenly pro-choice on this? What this does is syphon money away from the students who are left in public schools as a lot of funding from the state is per student enrolled. … Another aspect of this voucher setup is that it uses tax dollars to educate students in religious dogma. Just read the ads in paper for parochial schools and see what they promote. This is a blatant violation of the required separation of church and state. …

“Throwing money at education does not improve it, but putting the blame for students not achieving on the parents where it belongs is the most appropriate place for it, as teachers are often nothing more than policemen and women trying to keep kids from misbehaving and destroying the educational process. Teachers’ jobs are to teach, not to police. The police part becomes necessary and everyone loses when this happens.”

Several other readers, however, disagreed with him.

Amy Radachi writes: “I bought a historic house in the city of Dayton over 20 years ago. When I had children, I decided to pursue a values-based education for them at a parochial school. Only the youngest of my three sons is eligible for a voucher, unless I was to withdraw the two older boys, place them in a public school for a year, then re-enroll them. I feel the voucher system provides an opportunity for taxpayers to obtain the best education for their children by offering a choice. The tax money should follow the student. If vouchers were more widely available, under-performing schools would be forced to improve or else lose funding. Parochial schools aren’t known for high teacher salaries, yet they continue to produce quality results.”

Reader Mary Baine writes: “Voucher programs offer socioeconomically disadvantaged students access to private schools otherwise available only to the affluent. … Private schools are not obligated to enroll and retain everyone regardless of attitude, behavior, performance, or level of parental support. … Who educates the children left behind by private schools? Traditional public schools do this important work by offering an education to everyone with varying degrees of success due, at least in part, to issues that prevent many private schools from attempting to serve the same population.”

From Carol Ball: "Yes, I believe that school vouchers are a great idea. They enable students who couldn't afford to enroll in a private school to do so. Rather than trying to eliminate vouchers, the public school systems, teachers and union leaders should change how our public school systems operate. Then, there wouldn't be a need for private schools, and all students would benefit, not just the ones who can afford the price of private schools."

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