School Vouchers and the Death of Meritocracy

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

America likes to think of itself as a country where one’s abilities determine one’s fortune. America was founded by those fleeing European countries where upward mobility was restricted by the state.

The opportunity to obtain a good education is essential to a society that values meritocracy.

James Bryant Conant, president of Harvard University from 1933 to 1953, recognized that students should be chosen based on their intellectual abilities rather than their family connections. A meritocracy, based on equal opportunity, is the cornerstone of a free society. Without free public education, there is no mechanism allowing the talented to display their abilities.

Educational opportunity should be the great equalizer in our society, it should not be reserved only for those who can afford the costs of private schools. Yet numerous states are using tax payer funds to subsidize the rich who treat their kids to an education at a private school. These states are cutting funding to public education, and using those same funds to provide vouchers subsides to those who least need them.

Yet the rich are not content with being able to afford the costs of private education, they expect tax payers to subsidize their expenditures. In Colorado, the board of the Douglas County School District voted for a pilot program that provides parents $4,500 for each student. That falls significantly short of the tuition that ranges from $7,000 to $14,000.

In states across the nation, lawmakers slash public school spending while funding voucher programs. In New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) slashed $820 million in school spending last year while financing a school voucher expansion which “would cost about $825 million.” In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) proposed nearly a billion dollars in education cuts, while pushing a voucher plan that “is estimated to cost taxpayers $730 million in the first four years.”

When Republicans talk about cutting spending, they are excluding the rich from those cuts.

H/T: The Economist, LA Times, Think Progress.

71 thoughts on “School Vouchers and the Death of Meritocracy”

  1. Roco,

    “A good friend of mine is a classroom teacher.”

    What does that prove?


    “it is all about the money the districts get from the state and federal governments and is determined by number of pupils.”

    It’s mostly about the money schools get from the communities (local taxpayers) in which they were established. That’s why wealthy communities usually have better school facilities, smaller class sizes, and more varied and enriching educational programs than poor communities. Wealthy communities also have students whose parents are usually well educated. Most of the students in affluent communities come to school ready to learn.

    P.S. Many of my good friends are/were public school teachers–as was I for more than thirty years.

  2. puzzling:

    “If the voucher was $10,000, would you be good with it? Because that’s about what it costs for the government bureaucracy to fill that seat in a public school in the first place. Every $4,500 voucher taken in that Colorado community is saving taxpayers $5,500 in school outlays.”

    it is all about the money the districts get from the state and federal governments and is determined by number of pupils. most of the money goes to administration.

    At least in some states. A good friend of mine is a classroom teacher.

  3. Yes, absolutely, free and universal education should be the norm. “Compulsory” is another question.

  4. “The Cartel” is actually a well-made documentary and it raises important questions.

    I do hope the moronic comment by DafurDeng doesn’t discourage anyone interested in some of the problems with public education from watching it.

    (I’m sure movies like “The Godfather” and “Jaws” are recommended by idiots all the time. They’re still great films.)

  5. Elaine,
    Amen to your statement that the over reliance on testing is one of the worst problems for education today.
    Free and universal education should be the norm. Well said.

  6. I see we have another shameless troll who projects its educational and economic limitations onto those who are actually concerned about the kids rather than corporate bottom lines.

    Education must be free to all kids. And universal. And easily available. Soulless corporations should not be supported on the backs of the taxpayers and kids. Look how well the corporate model has worked out for the private prison system.

  7. It is clear that this article was written by an imbecilic moron who obviously graduated from a corrupt and totally criminal run public school system.

    Try educating yourself before you try to think again. However, that has never been a strong suit of the Left Wing Nut Jobs of the New Racist Liberal Nazi Party.

    Just because you don’t care about your children’s education, does not give you the right to force mine to remain equally as stupid as yours.

  8. Oh, and yes, I agree completely that testing is one of the biggest problems in education today. It’s a huge obstacle to teaching and learning.

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