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School voucher system needs regulations

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EMILY SODEMANN
June 10, 2011
EDITORíS NOTE: This is among commentaries written by students in the Washington Seminar program at Janesville Parker High School. The seminar is for students in the advanced placement U.S. government course taught by Joe Van Rooy.

The school voucher system in Wisconsin has potential to be very effective. However, the system needs state regulations.


The Wisconsin Constitution states that the Legislature must provide a free education, but one could argue that this has been violated for years. Do yearly fees count as a free education? How free is free? Because of this, itís arguable that school choice and voucher systems do not contradict the Wisconsin Constitution.


According to Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, studies on voucher schools show the schools have proven to either produce the same or better results in education. Additionally, voucher schools spend about half as much money as public schools. So if voucher schools are less expensive and produce the same or better results, why not use them?


However, Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, says the voucher system has shortcomings. Apparently in voucher schools, teachers do not need to report attendance and the state has no control over curriculum. Furthermore, in some cases, student transcripts have not been kept on file. Consequently, these students were not admitted into college.


Because of this, a voucher system could work in which the state has some regulations over the schools but the schools are still given flexibility. Voucher schools should be required to keep attendance and transcripts on record, and they should be required to teach certain critical curriculum. However, aside from the required texts, they should be given leeway to teach other subjects with the textbooks of their choice. They should not be completely controlled by the state; the teachers and administrators in voucher schools know what is best for their students.


School choice should be allowed because it should be the parentsí decision where to send their children to school, not the stateís decision.



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