VOUCHERS: THE ANSWER TO MARYLAND'S EDUCATIONAL WOES
October 17, 2005
Public education in Maryland is a broken system where students are failing to make the grade; however, many officials are reluctant to change the system and accept the idea of a voucher program, says Kirk A. Johnson, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Data Analysis.
Parents need more choices when it comes to the education of their children and school vouchers -- set dollar amounts that parents can usually use at the private school of their choice -- are a fiscally responsible way to provide such needs, he explains.
According to Johnson:
- Baltimore City Schools could save between $1 million and $6 million per year by using vouchers.
- Voucher schools are accountable because parents who are unhappy with their voucher schools can take their voucher to another school.
- There is little evidence to support the claim that vouchers "cream" the best students from the public schools and other school reforms, such as smaller classes, do not work better than vouchers simply because they have yet to prove their effectiveness.
- Research shows that voucher students, particularly African Americans, tend to perform better on standardized tests than non-voucher students; they may also stimulate a competitive effect in the areas affected by the voucher programs.
Since vouchers have proven their fiscal responsibility and their superiority to other types of school reforms, the Maryland state legislature should take a cue from places such as Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., and seriously consider vouchers, says Johnson.
Source: Kirk A. Johnson, "Top Five Myths of School Vouchers and Why They Should Not Impede Education Reform in Maryland," Maryland Policy Reform, September 12, 2005.
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