Friday, July 21, 2006

Why Vouchers Are Needed

Vol. 36 No. 7
The Political Economy of Educational Vouchers
By Dwight R. Lee

Dr. Lee is a professor of economics at the University of Georgia, where he holds the Ramsey Chair of Private Enterprise.

Public financing of education means political control.

The crisis in public education is real. As judged by any reasonable measure, the quality of public education is declining as the cost of public education is increasing. The desire for reform in public education is genuine. Parents want a good education for their children, and taxpayers want an honest return for their dollars. Unfortunately, a realistic appraisal of why meaningful reform in public education is so badly needed also points to why meaningful reform is so unlikely to occur.

The underlying problem with public education is, quite simply, that it is public. As long as education is provided publicly, it will be controlled by, and for the benefit of, public education professionals. The reason for this is straightforward....


MikeAT said...


One thing I’ve noticed about the principals I’ve run into around the Houston area is I often hear “Dr Smith or Dr Jones, PhD.” I don’t ever recall a PhD being a principal in a K-12 school when I was growing up. Do you?

The reason I raise this is because I know in education (same in law enforcement) there is this desire to get more education (Bachelor’s better than no degree, Masters better than Bachelors, etc) but I think we’ll both agree just because someone has a PhD in education theory (or Criminal Justice) that doesn’t necessarily make him a better administrator or leader.

I assume you get more money if you get a masters or doctorate. We get more money based on that…so there are some real reasons for me to go for my JD! :)

ns said...


Actually the author of the article is saying that if we get vouchers, the public education lobby will just put all these restrictions on the usage of these vouchers that it will never create any kind of competitive env that will acutally improve the schools. He's essentially saying that in a "perfect" world, vouchers will do what we want them to do (improve education) - but in the real world, it will make education even worse.

What good is it to have the "freedom" to choose between two bad schools? The author's point is that vouchers will will so restrictive, your "choice" will be between a list of schools you don't want in the first place.

It's only the illusion of choice. You get no choice if your "choice" is limited.