Argument: Vouchers improve choice/access despite private school right to deny

Issue Report: Education vouchers


Andrew Coulson. “Myth conceptions about school choice”. School Choices. – Once again, it is necessary to compare market-based school reforms with the status quo, rather than with a mythical ideal in which every family could obtain precisely the education it sought. At present, the vast majority of children are simply assigned to a public school, and have little choice in the matter. What voucher programs would do is allow those children a choice. While not every child will secure a place at his number one choice of school, his chances of finding a high-quality, appropriate educational environment will be vastly greater than under the present conformist state-run system. In Japan, the only nation with a thriving for-profit educational market, most private schools respond to pent-up demand by expanding their operations, rather than by turning away students–just as do for-profit enterprises in other industries. Supermarkets and bookstores do not put their customers on waiting lists, but rather expand their facilities to meet the demand.

While non-profit private schools are considerably less responsive to fluctuations in demand than are their profit-making counterparts, even they offer students with a wider range of choices than government school systems. The National Catholic Education Association reports that almost three quarters of its schools accept roughly three quarters of their applicants–hardly a stringent selection process. Furthermore, many rejections are due to lack of space, a problem that would be reduced if vouchers were available to pay for new classrooms. An educational market supplemented with scholarships for low-income families would clearly improve the almost total lack of choice imposed on most families by the public school system.