Louisiana, Education Vouchers, and the Education Business






I’m experiencing one of the few times in my life when interactions between policy makers and me have resulted in a 100 percent agreement.  That agreement is that my initial opening of “I’m confused,” after much back and forth resulted in a response back to me that “You’re confused.”

Hopefully one of you outside the direct debate can help me out.  Now I admit I’m hard headed in my beliefs that education cannot be conveniently separated as causes for concern at the elementary, middle school, high school, vocational training, and higher education at undergraduate and graduate levels.  Whether trickling down as drops of water or rising up in another form, in my opinion each level influences and is influenced by all the other levels.  When the rain starts, everybody under the cloud will get wet no matter how tall or short they might be.

As one suggested, I’m not arguing against the right of choice in terms of education.  The freedom to attend a particular school should not be restricted as long as that freedom is afforded to all and not just a select group.  Neither am I taking the argument of why should my resources go to support the choices made by others.  In every facet of life there are things we do not want to pay for or exert energy in doing, but we do it out of necessity, maybe desire, or perhaps because we believe that in benefitting others and society we benefit ourselves.  I’ll gladly contribute in whatever form necessary to repair something or build something to make things a little better or easier for others just as many other people would.  That philosophy is one of my personal creeds of “no man is an island unto himself,” and not some radical ideology shared by insurgents.

As I understand the process, and others have confirmed that I am on the correct path, the voucher system is designed to give individuals the opportunity to attend better quality schools if their current school is, to use a generic term, inferior.  These better quality schools are merely a component of the free market system where private business without government constraints is able to provide a higher quality product which is more competitive in costs than those under government control.

Question 1:  If the private model is producing a higher quality product, why have legislators, governors, and education boards receiving salaries from public funds not adjusted the system model with monies already available instead of maintaining the funding for an underperforming system?  Teachers get blamed, but in reality isn’t the negligence from the supervisors for not adjusting the system to a more effective and efficient model?  Why aren’t the supervisors evaluated under the same formulae of the teachers?

Question 2:  If the premise is a free market and private industry and an attitude of no or less government involvement or interference the better, why are these institutions receiving public funds for their expansions?  Why are some institutions increasing their tuition and fee costs to approximately the same amount of the individual vouchers?  If they do receive public funds, why not receive the same tuition funding upon which was sufficient to operate before the acceptance or “possible, probably, maybe” acceptance into the voucher program.

To use a comparison with the student loan industry, if an individual student takes out a backed loan for education expenses but fails to earn a degree or has a degree and has no job possibilities afterwards, the student is still on the hook for the loans.  If I am correct, the plunge of declaring bankruptcy will not expunge student loan debts in the vast majority of circumstances.  The institution, however, has received payment in full as has the holder of the loan note because that money is guaranteed by the government.  Still, according to many who received significant profits, government interference and any attempts at regulation are bad.

I admit that I’m confused and have had that belief confirmed by individuals in positions where they either establish by themselves or as strong voice within a larger body many of the rules and regulations in place and which are in the process of being enacted.  I always thought that if I accepted something, I accepted both the good and the bad.  As a result, I always felt it wise to step back and try to determine if the amount of good was worth the price after having to deal with the bad.  Likewise, before accepting anything I always tried to figure out just how many strings might be attached.  I never knew that at certain levels, you could take only the good, toss the bad back at the masses, and still be revered as the champion of the good to the masses.  Yep, I must be confused.