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The Contender
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Voucher Education

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/6/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,195 times Debate No: 15825
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




The public school system is deteriorating, despite
the mounting investment in it. Many children are
trapped in bad schools and their parents cannot
afford to send them to private school. Everyone
should be given the opportunity to choose which
school they wish their children to attend if our
education system is to improve. It is imperative
that we allow substandard schools to close.
Shoveling heaps of money into fundamentally
unreliable schools is nonsensical.

Two things that the public school system does not
have and will never have in its current form:
competition (internal and external) and
responsiveness to the market. These two issues are
the main problems with the public school system
today. The teacher's unions exploit the problems
associated with the lack of competition. Since
they have no real competition (private schools
cannot be considered real competition the way
things are) they have no reason to be innovative
and responsive to what the market and the public

If a voucher program was adopted, these problems
would be avoided.

1) Public schools are universally more expensive
(per capita) than their parochial and private
school counterparts. This should be no surprise
considering that most governmental bureaucracies
are unproductive and suck up more money than is
actually needed. Bearing in mind that private
schools receive less money in tuition than the
tax-paid funding that state-run schools collect,
it's safe to say (as always) that the private
sector provides a cheaper and more effective

2) You may argue that by establishing this voucher
system, many public schools will lose funding that
they desperately need. My argument: this is how
the free market works. If a school fails to
attract students for one reason or another, it
must close. Why pump truckloads of tax-payer
dollars into a failing school district when you
could just as easily distribute vouchers so that
students can attend a school of their choosing
(the better school). OR! The particular public
schools that are losing students to private
schools could do a better job (they do receive
more money than them after all). If students do
leave public schools for private schools, there
must be a reason. Oh yeah, private schools are
better. Competition's a bitch, ain't it?

3) Market forces. They cause business to fulfill
bigger and better things. Without them, business
is static, and at times regressive. The same would
apply to the school system. The competition
increase that comes with the voucher system would
encourage innovation and efficiency in schools.
School administrations will have to battle to
attract students in order to receive funds instead
of just sitting back watching the students march
into their school. They'll be forced to provide
attractive and valuable services in order to stay
alive. Perhaps the financial squeeze of the
voucher would help clean up the costly teacher
union scam. Hm.

4) With competition in full swing, a new and
fascinating concept may be enacted in American
school systems…variety. Schools will be more
inclines to incorporate a kind of specialization
in their educational programs and students will
begin to notice a diverse range of
professional-based schools programs. Academic
innovation anybody?

5) Yes, private schools produce better academic
results and require less funding than public
schools. So why not just go to the private school?
Because the average American family cannot afford
(or don't see the practicality in paying) both a
private school tuition and the fat public school


While I agree that the status of public education is appalling, your implication that poorly performing public schools need be closed is nonsensical. Schools perform poorly because of poor funding, and subsequently, less funding is given to poorly performing schools through taxes and grants. Does that seem like a plan for success? No! And let me paint a picture to show you why.
It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of a school's income is derived from property taxes collected from the surrounding area. The issue here is that often times school boards purchase property in poor areas because the land is cheap and then erect massive schools that cannot possibly be supported by the poor households that surround them. Then the slippery slope begins. These under funded schools perform poorly on standardized tests because they cannot support their respective school population on their current income and good teachers are let go because their jobs are evaluated based on their student's performance on these tests. The government also uses these tests to decide what schools are afforded federal assistance, and funding is often yielded to schools that perform well. Then the bad schools are put on hiring freezes because they get no help from the Federal Government and as a result they limp along with 30-40 kids in each class.
My home state of Florida tried to rectify this by passing an amendment to the state's constitution in 2002 limiting class sizes to 18 for classes from pre-K to 3rd grade, 22 from 4th to 8th, and 25 from 8th grade to graduation. Upon first glance, this seems like a great idea except for the fact that teachers now have to take pay cuts to supplement the additional hiring and because they are government employees they cannot strike because it's grounds for immediate termination. Unhappy teachers are unmotivated teachers and unmotivated teachers suck!
So now, depending on which state you live in, you have the choice of being paid more and having standing room only in your room or getting paid less and having proper class sizes. Keep in mind that whether you go with the former or the latter, the pay doesn't come close to properly compensating you for the hours put in.
It's a vicious cycle and I don't think that bulldozing the under-performing schools and allowing parents to choose where their kids go will make things any better. The parents will all choose the "good schools." These schools will then be hampered by overpopulation and the fact that their new students, who have suffered from a poor education since kindergarten, delay the learning process of kids who have been properly educated. Parents of the properly educated students are then put in the same position that those who wanted out of the bad schools were in. If your plan ever comes to fruition the only result will be the spread of bad education.
A possible solution would be to privatize School Boards into Not-For-Profit Organizations. I agree with your deduction that private schools are far more efficient then their public counterparts. So why not give competent businessmen (and women) an opportunity to execute a proper business plan? Obviously the election of individuals is not working out. The majority of people never properly evaluate candidates of any position other than President or American Idol Winner and this willingness to fall into the wave of bias political advertisement makes citizens incapable of making a sound decision. And honestly, the proposed candidates usually aren't worthy of the position to begin with because the people with the money to run for office can usually afford to live in a good school district.
I agree that there is a problem, but your solution is the answer!
Debate Round No. 1


1) Your remarks regarding problems with school funding are well-taken; however, my concern is how efficiently the funding is utilized. Under the public school system, school funding (whatever the amount, whatever the source) is used inefficiently. The crux of my argument centers on introducing competition to the educational system. School vouchers are but one method of doing so. I realize that vouchers are not a panacea, but they are, if managed correctly, an effective tool to introduce competition. If history as taught us, the free market system, if properly regulated, produces the most efficient, progressive, and robust delivery system for goods and services. Our challenge is to introduce these forces into our educational system. Merit pay for teachers and other monetary incentives to improve educational outcome, including competition between schools, are imperative. The voucher system is one way to slowly introduce competition between all schools, public and private.

2) Regarding your comments about bulldozing poor-performing schools, and the belief that choice is not an important influence: the concept of a free market is that successful organizations will flourish and unsuccessful organizations will cease to exist. In our scenario, poor performing schools will not be "bulldozed", but will simply shrink into irrelevancy. As parents exercise their right to choose and students migrate from poor performing schools to good performing schools (be they public or private) market forces will supply better schools. Please understand that his is a dynamic process that will eventually seek the best solution. In addition, the premise that properly managed, motivated, and incentivized public schools cannot compete with private schools in a free market system is not a forgone conclusion. I believe that there is a need for and a future for high-performing public and private schools. Choice is a good thing; these options are not mutually exclusive.

3) With all due respect, your solution regarding the privatization of school boards may introduce some expertise from our business community, but it will not introduce competition among schools and it doesn't expand choice. Even if the private not-profit school board was to attempt implementation of strategies from the business community (ie: merit pay), they would still be at the mercy of the politicians, teachers' unions, and other forces that will tend to resist such changes. It's good that we agree there is a problem, as that is the beginning of all solutions. My suggestion regarding school vouchers is only part of a bigger solution that I hopefully have better defined herein.


I get it. Competition is a great tool in the business market. The mistake that you're making is that business models yield money and their ultimate goal is to bring about more money. The school system is not supposed to work like that. It is intended to yield success and bring about further success. These are two fundamentally different goals and require two fundamentally different approaches. I know that money is involved in the path to success but you can both make and lose money and not have any success at all. This is particularly apparent in sports. The Houston Texans had a $57.6 million profit during the 2005 season, but finished with a winning percentage of just 12.5%. On the other hand, the New York Knicks lost $39 million that same year and only won 28% of their games. I'm not saying that sports success and school success is the same. I am simply pointing out that proper spending yields money, not wins, not losses, not A's or F's; just money!

Instead of focusing on the open market, how about comparing education to another indebted government system, the Post Office. The US Postal Service has ZERO competition! And before you bring up UPS or FedEx, know that with the exception of a few certified documents, they send parcels and packages, not mail. Mail goes to the post office, always has and always will. This system is completely funded by the government with the exception of money made through stamps and postage and I think everyone can agree that it will never make money. But the goal is to get mail from point A to point B and in that, it has increased its success exponentially since its establishment by George Washington in 1792. The education system, similarly, will never profit but we are epically failing in educating our youth. This makes the entire system a giant depreciating asset and that is a major problem!

We have already deduced that the money we are spending toward education is being used inefficiently. Whether money is given as a voucher or a grant or tuition or an annual budget, it's just dollars and cents until it yields success. It's time that we start getting a return on the money that we contribute on a yearly basis. All I can see in this proposal is more of the same things packaged up in a little voucher ribbon. We need a complete overhaul now!
Debate Round No. 2


1) In your first paragraph you assume that voucher education and free market business are two different animals. They are not. They both provide a service, they both have customers, they both require funding, and they're both regulated by and responsive to market forces. What you appear to be describing is our schooling system in its current form, in which case, you may be right. But the argument in question centers around voucher education, which is a free market.

2) You are over simplifying the situation of the US Postal service. You step over the existence of UPS and FedEx, but you cannot. True, these companies do not deliver a great deal of mail, but they do deliver parcels and packages, which is also a large portion of the US Postal service's business. Further, email has taken away an incredible amount of the post office's commerce. The claim that the post office has no competition is simply unsound. Thank you for mentioning the postal industry, for it further illustrates the power of choice. You have an equal opportunity to select from an assortment of businesses that will ship your packages for you, and these businesses know this. Because the customer can pick any service he wants, businesses must strive to make sure that they pick theirs by improving the quality and price of shipping.

3) Again, you assume that success and profit are not related in the free market. They are, in fact. In the business world, profit is generated by profit. You generally don't have a poor-service business that rakes in mountains of cash. The idea that you present is a circumstance of today's education system, not voucher education. The circumstance being that public schools receive set amounts of tax dollars regardless of their performance.

I'd like to ask my opponent to reserve round 4 for a brief conclusive statement that wraps up the sum of his argument. I will do the same.


MATTLEY forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I assert that the problems that face our school system can be corrected, with the most effeciency, through the voucher system. Throughout history, the free market has proven itself to be an effective instrument in economics due to its self-regulating nature and power of the free market forcesn it creates. Con's suggested solution is surely a step in the right direction, however, it does not completely encompass the entire situation.

I'd like to thank my opponent for the amicable debate and for sharing his thoughts with us.


MATTLEY forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by possible08 5 years ago
No problem! I'll try to explain as best as I can. Basically, school taxes are sent to the local public schools. Vouchers are then distributed evenly amongst the students. The voucher is a sum of money made up of school taxes. Now, the students have the opportunity to submit this voucher to the school of their choosing instead of the tax automatically being collected by the school. I contend that the equal opportunity to attend any school will be beneficial to the school system for reasons I state in my argument. Not sure if I explained this well enough. Let me know.
Posted by ReptiDeath 5 years ago
yeah i want to know explicitely what you desire out of my arguments... if i were to accept so define a clear resolution... like, School vouchers are necessary to improve the deteriorating school program
Posted by Pastafarian 5 years ago
What a rude debater. Please refrain from using the term "Bitch" as you used it in a manner that doesn't mean the true definition of a female dog.
Posted by duckiejen23 5 years ago
Can you please clarify what the voucher would do? Would it essentially make all schools private by making the voucher worth a particular sum of money rather than have that amount be established per child in public schools? It's an interesting topic but I wanted to understand the parameters before diving in. Thanks!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF