School Vouchers

school vouchers, government grants aimed at improving education for the children of low-income families by providing school tuition that can be used at public or private schools. The idea behind school vouchers is to give parents a wider choice of educational institutions and approaches; it is also assumed that competition from private schools will pressure public schools into providing a better education for their students. The first school-voucher program instituted in the United States was a state-funded effort begun in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1990; a 1995 federal bill proposed setting up pilot school-voucher plans in 26 American cities.

The voucher concept has been controversial, and critics have voiced concerns that such programs, if broadly applied, ultimately could destroy the American public-school system. The issue of the constitutionality of taxpayer-financed vouchers was sidestepped at the federal level in 1998 when the Supreme Court chose not to review a state court ruling that upheld the use of vouchers in Milwaukee. In 1999, however, a federal court held that when a voucher system used in Ohio resulted in almost all recipients attending religious instead of public schools the system violated the Constitution, but in 2002 the Supreme Court narrowly ruled that the program provided "true private choice." Meanwhile, in Florida a program was initiated (1999) in which vouchers, good at private religious and nonreligious schools, were given to children whose public schools had failed standardized tests, but the program has been challenged in the state courts. By the end of the 20th cent. various kinds of voucher programs were being implemented in 31 U.S. states and were utilized by nearly 65,000 students. There is no incontrovertible evidence that the use of vouchers has improved the education of students using them, either at private or public schools, but often it also is not clear whether poor educational results are in fact the fault of the schools or the result of other causes.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Future of Vouchers as Educational Reform, Political Strategy, Economic Solution, and Public Policy in the United States
Brown, Kathleen Sullivan.
Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Voucher Wars: Waging the Legal Battle over School Choice
Clint Bolick.
Cato Institute, 2003
Vouchers within Reason: A Child-Centered Approach to Education Reform
James G. Dwyer.
Cornell University Press, 2002
10 Reasons Why Private School Vouchers Should Be Rejected
.
Church & State, Vol. 64, No. 2, February 2011
The Case against School Vouchers
Edd Doerr; Albert J. Menendez; John M. Swomley.
Prometheus Books, 1996
Are School Vouchers Constitutional?
Kemerer, Frank R.; King, Kimi Lynn.
Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 77, No. 4, December 1995
School Vouchers: Recent Findings and Unanswered Questions
Barrow, Lisa; Rouse, Cecilia Elena.
Economic Perspectives, Vol. 32, No. 3, Fall 2008
The Economics of School Vouchers
Hornung, Daniel.
Yale Economic Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 2010
The Effects of Vouchers and Private Schools in Improving Academic Achievement: A Critique of Advocacy Research
Lubienski, Christopher; Weitzel, Peter.
Brigham Young University Law Review, Vol. 2008, No. 2, March 1, 2008
Vouchers, Public School Response, and the Role of Incentives: Evidence from Florida
Chakrabarti, Rajashri.
Economic Inquiry, Vol. 51, No. 1, January 2013
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Market Approach to Education: An Analysis of America's First Voucher Program
John F. Witte.
Princeton University Press, 2000
The School Choice Hoax: Fixing America's Schools
Ronald G. Corwin; E. Joseph Schneider.
Praeger, 2005
Vouchers for Students with Disabilities: The Future of Special Education?
Hensel, Wendy F.
Journal of Law and Education, Vol. 39, No. 3, July 2010
Counterpoint - Special Education Vouchers Are Beneficial: A Response to Hensel
Bucks, Stuart.
Journal of Law and Education, Vol. 41, No. 4, October 2012
The Great School Debate: Choice, Vouchers, and Charters
Thomas L. Good; Jennifer S. Braden.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000
Liberty and Learning: Milton Friedman's Voucher Idea at Fifty
Robert C. Enlow; Lenore T. Ealy.
Cato Institute, 2006
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