School vouchers might not be something that you are familiar with, but it is a key part of the educational strategy of the Trump presidency, so it is important that you know what this is all about. The idea is that parents should have the right to choose the school that is right for their child, not just public school. The money allocated for public school is then transferred as a voucher that can be used at private schools, such as Montessori schools or, and this is important, Christian schools. This is a highly popular policy among Christians because religion can’t mix with education in the public school system, but this now opens the doors for the government to pay for students to go to Christian schools. What that really means is that taxpayers are paying for students to go to these schools, which is not inherently bad, but opens the doors to corruption because there is less oversight over private schools, hence their being private. The question then becomes whether it is worth what we are spending to fund these schools and is the money going to the right place. The answer might not surprise you when you consider who this all comes from. Betsy DeVos’ credentials came into question when she was nominated as Secretary of Education because she has never had any experience with public schools, even going to private schools herself as a student. So it makes sense that she would support privatizing schools. But, again, the question is about whether it works.
In 2015, researchers examined an Indiana voucher program serving tens of thousands of students and the students experienced “significant losses in achievement” in math and “no improvement in reading” according to the New York Times. Remember that this is both the state and time frame where Indiana’s governor was a man named Mike Pence, who became Vice President just before DeVos was nominated for her post. In DeVos’ home state of Michigan, the results were much the same, prompting reporters to question DeVos on what is going on with education in her home state while she is the Secretary of Education. The reality is that all of the research says that the voucher programs are not only bad in terms of who the money goes to, but hurt the kids, which is enough to show why this should not even be considered further.
We fall back to religion, which is really the winner in all of this. With vouchers, parents can send their kids to Christian schools more, which was previously harder with the barriers of a tuition. Christian schools are the beneficiary of these policies and that is exactly what DeVos is looking to do. Her allegiance with Christian schools would be great if the students did better, but the distinct negative impact shows why vouchers are a bad plan. You can say what you will about the policies of the current president, but this educational mindset is objectively dangerous to the population and only serves to line people’s pockets and pander to a base.