Vouchers within Reason: A Child-Centered Approach to Education Reform

Vouchers within Reason: A Child-Centered Approach to Education Reform

Vouchers within Reason: A Child-Centered Approach to Education Reform

Vouchers within Reason: A Child-Centered Approach to Education Reform

Synopsis

Observing the storm of recent debates around school vouchers, James G. Dwyer concludes that the welfare of children has been routinely subordinated to the interests and supposed rights of various groups of adults-parents, teachers, taxpayers, and advocates for ideological causes. Dwyer argues that a truly child-centered approach to education reform would yield dramatically different conclusions regarding the morality and constitutionality of government initiatives to improve public and private schooling in America. Dwyer makes the case that state funding of religious and other private schools is not only permissible, but mandatory, as a moral and constitutional right of the children already in private schools. In Vouchers within Reason, he also demonstrates the necessity of attaching to that funding robust standards for the content and nature of instruction and for treatment of students. These are just the sort of regulatory strings that most current supporters of vouchers fear. In the author's view, vouchers represent an opportunity for states to accomplish what they have been unable to do in the past-namely, to bring academic accountability to religious schools, many of which fail to provide a good secular education. He sees voucher programs that are now in place as morally irresponsible and clearly unconstitutional, however, because they require almost nothing of recipient schools in return for the funding. This book reorients the hot topic of universal school vouchers in a new and vital direction that may change the minds of scholars, educators, and policymakers alike.

Excerpt

In American political and legal discourse today, the prevailing perspectives regarding state involvement in child rearing are adult-centered—that is, they look to the interests of adults first to determine whether particular policies are good or bad, and they look to the interests of children only secondarily or not at all. Politicians, academics, and the general public, despite their recurrent preoccupation with children's education, manifest little genuine concern for the welfare of the individual children whose lives are at stake. If they take any interest in the kind of upbringing children other than their own receive, it is because of the ways children's upbringing might affect particular groups of adults—in particular, parents—or affect society as a whole. Are children receiving the kind of upbringing their parents want them to receive? Will today's schools create the right kind of citizens and laborers for our society and our economy, and minimize the number of people who become sociopaths or social burdens? Does education policy comport with the right of taxpayers not to support particular forms of schooling? The well-being of the individual children immediately affected by education policy seldom captures serious attention; at best it is cited to add rhetorical force to arguments for positions motivated by other concerns. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current debate about school vouchers.

Political momentum for school vouchers today is huge. There are still few voucher programs in place, but proposals for new voucher programs have been on the legislative agenda in every state and in the federal government. Vouchers were a major issue in the 2000 presidential election, and voucher supporters at the state and national levels rejoiced at the victory of George W. Bush, a strong supporter of vouchers and a president likely to select Supreme Court . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.