I could probably write a dozen or more columns on the subject of education. Perhaps I will as time goes on, but my subject today is school vouchers. Funds for primary and secondary education are collected by various government agencies and are used for public schools. A school voucher program would allow a parent to receive funding for their child’s private or home-schooling education.
Currently, in our state, a parent who chooses a learning experience outside the public school system must pay for it themselves. The funds they are already paying into the system can’t be used for other choices.
Many say, “Who will pay for those with special needs that are, many times, more expensive than the average child? What about disadvantaged children that need school lunches or special transportation?”
I do not propose something that eliminates those programs. I firmly believe that the education of all children is probably the single most important expenditure the state and local governments have for the future of society.
I propose the voucher amount each child gets to be based on the amount that would have been spent on that individual child in the district where he or she resides. In other words, if the child has special needs, the funds would be the equivalent for any special needs child in that district. So where would we get extra money for the special needs children? Whether we assign public school funds or adopt a voucher system, the money would come from the same place. It would come from couples that do not have children, single people, and parents with children in public school. Don’t forget, that parents who use vouchers are still paying into the system while using vouchers.
Many parents think that private schools wouldn’t be covered by the vouchers. In some cases, perhaps not, but statistics show the average cost of education in Texas public schools per student is approximately $9,500. The average for private schools is just over $8,500. Homeschooling may cost more if you consider that someone has to be home to teach instead of going to work every day. For that reason, I believe the home-schooled pupil should receive the same amount of funding as the voucher for a private school.
There are those that think this would destroy the public school system by taking those funds from a school district that has facilities, teachers, and expenses that are geared toward all the children in the district. I will admit that adjustments will have to be made but consider this, there are a limited number of private school slots available in any given district. Additionally, few parents would be willing to home-school and meet all the required academic requirements. Currently, most school systems are overcrowded, and it would take years of private school growth to underutilize a district’s public facilities.
As for homeschooling, I would expect that the parent homeschooling would have to meet certain requirements as well as routine academic achievement tests for the children as long as they are receiving voucher money. I have personally known several families that homeschooled their children, and in each case, the children would have been in the top 10% of any public school class, were well-rounded socially, and had a strong sense of responsibility. I know of several parents in Ellis County that home school their kids, and I challenge you to find any of them failing to provide top-notch education to their children.