The Instigator
AngilCorey
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Denying school vouchers maintains the need for social programs.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/8/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,455 times Debate No: 1529
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (4)

 

AngilCorey

Pro

School choice is the first step in drastically lowering and eventually ending social reliance on federally funded programs. By allowing all children, regardless of social standing, to obtain the best education available, we enable them to end the cycle of poverty by way of ending the cycle of ignorance. Offering our poor, handicapped, and non-conventional learners the opportunity explore and obtain educational opportunities that will allow them to advance through life in an upwardly mobile manor is the best social assistance that we as a people can offer. Just because a family cannot afford to live in the best neighborhood doesn't not/should not mean that money should be diverted from those neighborhoods to be distributed in lower income communities. Allowing families choice will do much more create a balance in inequalities in education.

Competition between schools and systems will also provide a better system as seen though the capitalistic system of America. Competition fosters the best in our abilities and enables us to weed out and terminate institutions that are not providing at an acceptable level. This too balances the quality of education between the rich and poor.

Finally, giving teachers the choice to work in a private sector school without union representation forced upon them or the choice to maintain status quo within a governmental school, will provide two completely different sets of thought in education - the traditional or contemporary. This too gives teachers the chance to compete for higher wages, better benefits and the ability to teach in manor's that would not be possible within public schools.

Overall, if one is to support social programs it is foolish and self defeating to deny the overall benefits of school choice via vouchers.
Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss

Con

Firstly, vouchers or systems very similar to them have been tried before. Especially in England an have been rejected for various reasons. Your round one argument shows an amazing faith in the voucher systems ability to almost magically transform our society. Until I know exactly what kind of voucher system you proposing it will be hard for me to make a complete argument. But I will lay down some initial arguments.

If you mean privatization of the entire school system, then you must realize that this will be a permanent decision that will result in an initial huge loss to the tax payers. Privatization schemes almost always result in government properties being sold at both a horrific loss and far beyond market value. Kansas City MO has for decades tried to bring light rail back, but have been stymied by the fact that they sold the right of ways to family for a pittance who has now been holding out for vast fortune to buy them back. Many school properties are in prime locations and when sold would be impossible to buy back. So a broad based privatization would be virtually irreversible.

A comparison with the federal support of higher education would give some idea of what we could expect from the voucher system. University education was initially supported by heavily subsidized state universities and the Pell Grants.

This was augmented by student loans. Since student loans where available to students of relatively high incomes it allowed parents to pay what they already could and then the student to contribute with enormous loans. The result was mind numbing inflation in the cost of higher education. Then states steadily reduced their subsides to state schools further feeding the inflationary forces. At the same time the majority of students who were not at poverty level have influenced states to move from need based assistance to merit based assistance which has further increased inflation and transfered monies from the poorest students to the richest students. The result has been that students in the united states leave university with huge debts which put them at almost an impossible disadvantage in the global employment market place. Further it is harder than ever for poor students to receive a college education and the prospect of huge debts is a huge disincentive to attend college especially for African Americans whose income potential is raised comparatively little by graduating from college.

Once you separate the poor children from the middle class children into different schools as almost surely would happen with any voucher system there will be an incredible urge for the middle class voters to view the vouchers as a government handout which they don't need and will therefor vote against. Even if the vouchers are not eliminated one could be assured that they would never keep pace with inflation and eventually would shrink significantly in value.

If an equal amount was given to every parent a rich parent who already has his or her children in private school would be able to add the entire amount of the voucher to the amount they are already paying. Which would of course result in substantial inflation. The poor parents would be able to add nothing to the voucher whose value would have already been diminished by the inflation caused by giving the vouchers to well off students. The inevitable result would be steep increase in the disparity of education received almost immediately this disparity would only increase as the voucher became viewed as welfare and was either cut or allowed to diminish through inflation.

If the vouchers where mean tested it would only increase the perception that they were welfare and hasten their demise.

The University system differs from the public school system in two important regards. Few private colleges are strictly religious and many students live in colleges far away. Americans are used to their school students living at home. However even a relatively large community often can only support one or two high schools. Many private high schools teach religious education and demand that their students participate in religious worship.

How would you feel if your work moved you to a new community school and the only high school was Catholic and your child had to pray Hail Mary everyday? Or if the only school in driving distance was Muslim and your child was forced to were a veil and pray to Mecca five times a day? While these would be extreme, though very possible problems, the reality would be that religious schools in small communities would face huge competition from other the religious schools of other faiths which would doubtlessly result in an increase in sectarian strife.

Further some students, those with significant learning disorders and those with severe disciplinary problems are likely to be either segregated in the few remaining public schools or segregated in private schools that will come to resemble hellish prisons. The main benefit that the severely disabled students receive from public school is contact with normal children. This benefit would almost surly disapear under a voucher system.

You portray public school teachers as being trapped by unions that they don't desire. The reality is that there are plenty of private positions available. The majority of these potions pay less and few have similar benefits to public school. I know many teachers who are only are in public education to provide health insurance for their families because their husbands job don't provide health insurance. New jobs such as created by new private schools almost never come with family health benefits. These teachers will not be taking these jobs.

Further teachers are the most pro-union segment of our economy. They make teamsters look like great big cuddly teddy bears. You can be assured that they will unionize a significant portion the private schools or at least force them into lengthy legal battles.

Finally you hope that privatization will create an educational marketplace. However there is a significant body of evidence that this is not the case. Many private schools in the south have lower educational outcomes than their public school counterparts but parents pay to send their children to them because they are segregated. The selection of schools will be determined by many things. The quality of education is likely to be last amongst them. Firstly because privatized schools will be unlikely to submit to standardized testing which could erode their student base. Therefor it will be almost impossible for parents to determine which schools are better. Secondly parents are likely to be more affected by factors such as whether the school provides school buses, which sect the school promotes, whether the school keeps the children for the entire work day, and the racial composition of the school. Further in many communities there simply will not be any competition at all for high schools.

Market forces can lead to dramatic improvement in systems that allow true unfettered market forces to work. But systems that are dependent on large government subsides are not a true markets and efforts at privatization tend to have disastrous consequences. You only have to look at (privatized but subsidized) Amtrak or the British rail system completely privatized to see what happens. Prices explode through the roof, and service plummets. But in transport there are other competing means of transport that are heavily regulated ans subsidized, namely the airlines. With primary schools, there is no other system to which children can turn if the school system collapses.

The public school system is bad. But it could be much much worse and there is ample evidence that this outcome is quite probable if vouchers are added to the equation.
Debate Round No. 1
AngilCorey

Pro

As a child of an inner city school in my first years of education, I personally have seen the differences in education between affluent communities and those that are less financially stable. The inadequacies are immense and lead to a great divide in the overall quality of education due to lack of updated materials, deteriorating environments, social atmosphere, apathy within the faculty, and equipment that is out of date. These things do matter - and the best way to ensure that all children, regardless of income, have access to the best possible education is to allocate opportunity via voucher programs to include charter schools.

Vouchers, which should be meant to include options such as charter schools, are an option that allow that choice. Vouchers should not in anyway be tied to a dollar amount - and should be issued as credit for attendance for every family under 200% of the poverty level. In no way should these programs be offered to the affluent - who most likely have the means to live in a more affluent school system, but no doubt have the ability to pay for private schooling if they so choose. Vouchers would not be subject to inflation based upon that factor and that a Voucher would hold/offer/ensure a place of enrollment into a school - not a monetary value. All schools, public and private would be mandated to offer a percentage of their overall enrollment for voucher students without selection criteria based upon socioeconomic, race, sex, religion, etc.. Rather, selection would be based upon time of enrollment.

Thus students would be given fair opportunity to attend the school of their choice, in the community of their choice, public or private, without discrimination. These students would be given, as I was as a child from the projects, an opportunity for social interaction within a community and group as to lend to personal development and social growth up and away from that of poverty mentality and socioeconomic influence. It would open doors of influence and role mentorship within a social class that many children would never have access to or observance of. Thus creating the possibility for personal social growth, development and choice. My best example of this theory is myself.

As for our teachers and their choices between public and private school; we must keep in mind that many teachers do not support the current public school path. Nor do all teachers support Unions. To say such would be completely inaccurate and a distortion of the overall reality of the persons who elect to teach our youth. While charter schools, private schools, and religious schools do start teachers out at lower wages - they also offer the opportunity for teachers to advance based upon merit, barter and negotiate wages and benefits, and yes, to teach in a more unconventional way dependant upon the school's mission. In unionized pubic schools, teachers are not rewarded as individuals, are forced to work with substandard performing teachers who are protected by the unions and accept working conditions based upon the whole - not their own individual needs, wants and goals.

In the end, vouchers, in the form of place-holders, and the example of charter schools - as in Ohio, are an option that all families should have who find themselves seeking an education choice away from the hardships, poverty and lack of opportunity within failing public school systems. These programs should be protected from inflation and abuse by limiting the total household income to 200%, not using the vouchers as cash, and mandating that all schools maintain a set percentage of available openings within their rolls for children eligible for this benefit. No child should be denied the great gift of social freedom, economic stability, and personal mobility of a better education.
Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss

Con

The basic problem with your position is that the broader voucher system you propose the more damage it could do to the already existing, yet admittedly disappointing system. On the other hand the smaller the program, the less likely it is to gain approval or to be successful.

To make the scheme that you have outlined to work it you would have to fund the vouchers in some manner. Most voucher programs take money from the public schools from which the student comes.

The problem with this means of funding is that the reduction of one student does not really reduce the costs to school. After all the heating bill does not reduce 1/30th because one student leaves. In fact the heating bill should be slightly higher because of the lack of students body heat. If a class full of students at least enter the voucher program then the school from which the children leave will suffer a loss of income, undoubtedly making the school worse for the remaining student.

Unfortunately, most voucher schemes are actually intended to destroy the public school system in the manner outlined above.

Unfortunately, very few private schools participate in these schemes. Many after all got their start as alternatives for white students who did not want to attend integrated schools. Even if they are not segregated as such at present they are not all that keen about throwing their doors to the deserving poor.

The few that participate are generally religious schools. Which is fine as far as it goes for those who desire such an education. I myself am a bit conflicted about religious schools. I attended a Lutheran school from preschool to 7th grade. I enjoyed the first few years. But from fourth grade on, I hated every single minute of it. I thanked whatever deity I still believed in constantly that I never was forced to darken the doorstep of such a school again. Lutheran school certainly had a role in setting the morals by which I live my life by today. But like many attendees, it put me of Christianity permanently. I can think of no uglier face of Christianity than Christian schools.

If you wanted to provide enough money to provide places in the better schools you would have to raise taxes. I think you would find an increase in property taxes for vouchers for people who make 200% the poverty level, who are not normally homeowners, would be difficult to come by.

In a sense a small version of what you envisioned exists already. Many of the posher Catholic schools provide scholarships. I believe they generally aim to have 10% of the student body be scholarship students. I have known several inner city students who were very happy to have those scholarships.

If you explain how you plan to fund these vouchers without withdrawing funds from present school system and what sort of schools would be available to those who receive vouchers, it would be easer to judge the program.

Things to consider are the fact that Catholic schools make a large percent of private schools, many protestants home school, and many of student receiving vouchers may be protestant African-Americans.

Also schools receiving vouchers will unlikely want to subject themselves to requirements placed on public schools. If, for example, schools were required to ascertain the citizenship of every student, many Mexican immigrant children will probably transfer to Catholic schools who would understandably be hesitant to ascertain the citizenship of all of its students.

Also what is to become of the gay, Muslim, and even Jewish students? The problem is that unless you expand the program well beyond what you have outlined, it is unlikely that schools that would welcome these students would be encouraged to participate.

I understand you're dream, but it is simultaneously too daring and not daring enough. It would undoubtedly be a dream for some, but unfortunately it almost certainly would be a nightmare for more.

If I were you, I'd abandon the voucher scheme and try to help raise money for scholarships.
Debate Round No. 2
AngilCorey

Pro

Whereas I understand your arguments against my position, I believe that I can explain away many of your fears and misguided perceptions on a point by point basis.

You admit that the current system is disappointing and yet you worry about damaging that system. The current system is more than damaged - it is virtually in disrepair. Under a Voucher/Charter school plan - these schools would be able, if not mandated, to participate in these programs by opening up their rolls by 25% to out of area children. While children may choose to leave a school - others will no doubt choose to attend said school if they perceive it better than their current option. In trying to attract students to fill that 25% opening instigates effort to draw interest via new programs, academic standards and restructuring - only benefit can arise when compared to the current condition. Thus, in a way, we are enabling and promoting improvement within even the worst school house.

Vouchers would be funded in a manor as follows - as with charter schools, x amount of money comes from the federal government and x from the state, while still x comes from the city or municipality. The city funding would remain in the city school system - thus allowing a portion of funding to be left behind even when a student leaves. Funding by city should be based on residency - not enrollment. If for some reason rolls fall so low that a school cannot operate - does that not speak volumes about what the community and citizens have chosen for that schools fate? Why should the people not be heard? Why on earth would we want to keep failing schools open even if those who literally own the school (the residents and taxpayers) do not want it or feel that it is worthy? Schools are for education first, employment second. And since all children must go to school - when one door closes another will open - thus fostering competition for the best/better teachers, who will be able to negotiate their salaries and benefits if they so choose not to apply for a position within a public school.

Segregation - since their is no criteria for enrollment under the voucher system - how can segregation be a factor? First come/first serve. This would also insight parental research, involvement and participation. It would be easy to see those parents who believe education is paramount - their children would be those enrolled the quickest - and for that effort, they have earned their spot.

In Ohio - a testing ground for vouchers and charter schools, many schools exist - secular and non-secular. My children attend an non-religious school that is a charter school. The class size is smaller, art, gym and music are the norm and they are accelling as are the other children from inner city schools, surrounding failing schools, military families and those who want a different method in teaching their child applied are those that fill the halls. There are other non religious schools in the area - mostly charter schools. But, if we look at the mandatory 25% slot in all public schools that would be available - then we see that there are even more non-faith based alternatives as well. So too, private schools who accept the vouchers - again funded by the federal allotment for the child and the state allotment, would be mandated to accept the same 25% in order to maintain their charter.

Taxes would not be raised, as stated very clearly funding would be simple and direct. If anything, we would find that we are getting more bang for the buck since schools, private, religious, charter and public would be fighting for each and every way to draw your $'s to them = making them spend more wisely.

Scholarships do not work, for as with our family, we were not poor enough for a 100% scholarship, and too poor to make the difference up with only a 15% scholarship. Not acceptable if we are to take children and assist them in getting up and ahead in life regardless of income, faith, residence, race or other outside factor. The goal here is opportunity = the responsibility for both parent and child is to take that opportunity and do with it what they will - well with all hopes.

You bring up Gay, Muslim and Jewish students. Why should any of these issues be factors in education? If a Muslim's open a school, as long as they don't exclude from their rolls - and honor the 25% enrollment, their institution could and should participate to obtain a charter. Same with any school a specific group would wish to charter.

Choice in education is the first large step up out of poverty. All should be entitled to it regardless of race, sex, orientation, faith, etc..., if we are going to offer and mandate education we need to do all that we can to ensure it is fair, comprehensive, competitive with the world (of which if we don't compete within our own borders - how do we compete with other countries) safe, and providing the absolute best chance of a future for all.

This is no dream - it is a possible future that will only strengthen the minds of future America, and would be available to all who have no choice for upward mobility in life from the start due to childhood poverty. It is a system that while maybe not perfect - is a huge leap from the crumpling present towards a more stable and successful future path.

Thank you.
Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss

Con

Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
AngilCorey -

Virtually every single school voucher program proposed or implemented in the United States has a dollar value assigned to the vouchers. In Milwaukee (which has the biggest voucher program in the nation), the amount is currently $6,501 per student. The vouchers aren't blank checks; there's only so much the government will pay for (which invariably means a dollar amount):

http://www.jsonline.com...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

I'm all for welfare, so it wouldn't bother me to provide aid to ensure that someone from your household could be home to raise your children. Not all homeschooling is done by the parents of the children though - a parent in your area could do the homeschooling and you compensate them for their time.

Not all US schools are failing; it's only about 8% (http://www.usnews.com...). But if you want to know why US schools perform worse than other industrialized nations: it's because we spend less per capita on our schools, we have higher student/teacher ratios, and we have higher rates of child poverty than virtually of our competitors:

http://nces.ed.gov...

A major portion of "NCLB" was to open more charter schools and it's done nothing to improve the success rates.

Again, public education isn't mandated for your child. There are several other options available for you.

If anything has screwed up the public education system over the last 20 years, it's been the free-market approach that has eroded compensation for teachers (pushing the best ones out of teaching into other fields), reduced spending on education, and destroyed the social programs that elevate people out of poverty (which is responsible for poor school performance).
Posted by AngilCorey 9 years ago
AngilCorey
BTW: LOL, gotta tell you, you are a cuttie pie even if misguided! Had to get that off of my chest!
Posted by AngilCorey 9 years ago
AngilCorey
You are obvously not getting that the vouchers would not carry a dollar value - but rather a 'attendence voucher'. No one could be, would be or should be denied due to income, race, religion, etc...

As are as home school - would you rather pay for welfare for my family than provide an education? The only for me to homeschool would be to quit my job. Would that be financially suitable? I think not. As for paying for private school - is it not you who chimed in about the high cost of private schools? Again, not always an option.

You claim not all schools are failing. Currently American schools place in the 30's worldwide in Math, Science and Reading. How is that not failing on the largest scale imaginable? It is disasterous. We need to do something, and do it now. A major step is allowing schools to compete by offering the best education, teachers and resources - as colleges do. Another, is to end the "Schools are for employment" mentality and get back to "Schools are for educating". Charter schools and vouchers are a way of achieving both means.

My point with Pot and homosexuals - is that neither is mandated for my child. So, in the way you compared them doesn't apply. The way I referenced them - choices that you support - was in wondering why you would want to socialize/communize/ education of our children and deny families - especially the poor - an opportunity for betterment.

As a young child on the system - I know that the luck of where our home lay benefitted us. We attended one of the best public schools in Ohio in the 80's. Had we remained in the inner city schools - the book of our lives would have been very different.

No fix is 100%, but after 20 years of watching public schools, teacher's unions and the government screw it up worse - I am willing to take a brave step forward.
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
Angilcorey –

Diverting funding from the public school system into the vouchers that would subsidize the private schools like you're talking about would invariably destroy the public school system because it relies on those funds (and is already under-funded as it is). You can preach this "miracle of the market" garbage, but it's never proven to be the truth. Virtually every attempt to open publicly-regulated systems up to "market competition" has been disasterous – the Airline Industry is a great example. The same with the telecommunications industry. Same with the lending industry (as we're seeing right now).

You're not required to subject your children to public education; you're perfectly free to home-school your kids or to send them to private school. The only thing you CAN'T do is selectively suck your tax dollars back out of the system to subsidize your personal preferences when it comes to educating your kids. YOU'RE the one that introduced pot and homosexuality into the debate, and I explained why both are irrelevant.

...cont'd...
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
Angilcorey -

...cont'd...

Only SOME of our schools are failing – and the ones that are failing are doing so because of myriad variables other than the quality of the education being provided. The homes the children go home to are far more of an impact on the scholastic failure than the schools; that's why school success/failure breaks down completely along socioeconomic lines. You tell me someone's household income, and I can tell you what their average SAT score is or whether they pass standardized tests. In order to fix the schools, we need to fix the larger problems of poverty and social inequity.

Again, you're not REQUIRED to send your kid to public schools.

There are secular schools out there which do get rid of the religious First Amendment conflict – but their tuition rates tend to be vastly higher than parochial schools (due to their having smaller corpuses from charitable donors). Their high tuition rates even further invalidate your claim that vouchers will make quality private-sector education accessible to poor people – because the gap between what the vouchers will pay for and what the parents will have to cover is vastly higher.
Posted by AngilCorey 9 years ago
AngilCorey
sethgecko13:

I am not for tearing down the public school system. I would love to see a strong, productive and result producing school system that did what it was meant to do - educate our children. It is very posible, that like with higher institutes of learning, competition will prove to be the catylist that leads to that improvement.

Roads, pot, homosexuals??? These things aren't mandated that a parent subject their children to. Education is one of the most important factors in removing children from poverty, improving social interaction, and creating a better world. Currently, our failing schools, in which we are mandated to send our children to, are destroying not only our future, but the children we love.

There are secular private schools out there. As long as the school, religious or not, isn't using the government funds to teach religion, there is not a conflict of interest. The vouchers should not be used as cash - but rather a 'ticket' for attendance - thus NOT icnreasing the tuition rates for other children.
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
AngilCorey

I'm not against the right of parents to choose the best way of educating their children. Opposing school vouchers doesn't remove any of the options that they have now. What I'm against is publicly subsidizing private educational institutions. What if every citizen that was dissatisfied with their local police department wanted "law enforcement vouchers" to set up their own private security forces? What if every citizen dissatisfied with the public roads wanted "road vouchers" to pave their own roads?

Forced acceptance of gay marriage? That's rich; does that mean we currently have a system of "forced acceptance of heterosexual marriage?"

School Vouchers ("school choice" is a focus-grouped spin term) would AFFECT me in a variety of ways. First, it would reduce the financial resources going to public schools thereby reducing their quality of service. Second, in many cases people want their vouchers to go to parochial schools which is a patently-unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment because it would be subsidizing churches. Third, it would further perpetuate the cycle of reappropriating money from the poor to the affluent (because as I mentioned - the costs of private schools are so high vouchers don't cover them).

Using pot is irrelevant to this debate because unless we're talking about federally-subsidized healthcare including access to medicinal marijuana, there are no tax dollars involved in the equation. Abortion is also irrelevant because elective abortions are not eligible for federal tax dollars. If someone wants to have an abortion they must pay for it themselves. If someone wants to smoke weed, they have to pay for it themselves. Similarly, if you want to educate your children outside the public school system – you have every right to do so, but you have to pay for it yourself. Your analogy doesn't work.

...cont'd...
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
AngilCorey -

...cont'd...

Your proposal is that a family of four that makes over $40k/yr is ineligible for school vouchers. The average private school tuition rate per child per year continues to rise and is near $7k/year (without extra costs like busing) – and it's only that low because private schools rely heavily on donations from benefactors to defray the costs that students pay, and those donations would be stretched thin by the influx of many new students that vouchers would cause (to get an idea of what the rate would be, look at non-sectarian schools which average over $12k/year).
Posted by kfarls 9 years ago
kfarls
I think vouchers should only be allowed for non-religious private schools.
Posted by AngilCorey 9 years ago
AngilCorey
Same to you Robert. Very nice debate. Would be more than glad to do a rematch in the future.

Take care.

Angil
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by U.n 1 year ago
U.n
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture.
Vote Placed by sethgecko13 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by AngilCorey 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Robert_Lee_Hotchkiss 9 years ago
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