Vouchers are a bad idea, no matter how anyone spins it. The rules governing them are usually poorly written and unrealistic. Also, they are loaded with ulterior political agendas meant to undermine public school funding as well as to eliminate certain academic curriculum (i.e. the teaching of evolution or sex education) while promoting other activities (prayer in school).
On top of that, private and parochial school officials, as well as those running public schools, are not fond of them, and for very good reason: they can hinder their rights to function as an institution of learning without government intervention.
In theory, parochial schools and inner-city youth should prosper from this. After all, the voucher system is meant to offer money for those who want to attend a superior school, as opposed to the “inferior” public school in their neighborhoods.
The problem, however, is that the vouchers are usually underfunded. Most laws that have been implemented offered a stipend as high as five thousand dollars for tuition, books, and other material. In many cases, the vouchers were one-time offers. The cost of most parochial schools is much higher than five thousand and would not be much of a savings for parents who want them.
Also, like most private schools, a parochial school official may fear taking money from a public entity. Officials at these schools believe they would have to follow certain guidelines set out by government regulations and policies that are similar to public schools. This may include such things as separation of church and state.
Many parochial schools have educational programs unique to their institutions. In many cases, they have traditions (religious or not) that exist within its walls. This cans be anything such as specific uniforms, specialized instructions, or gender-specific classrooms. Again, vouchers can knock these walls down and rob it of its uniqueness.
Another factor affected is a parochial school official’s right to select the students to attend their institution. Many prep schools have voiced dissatisfaction with this policy. Parochial school, which commonly focuses on a particular religious affiliation among its pupil, is no different in this matter. Due to the funding and the constitutional rights – in particular civil rights laws – which goes along with it, this can strip these institution of their ability to select.
Still, the biggest reason vouchers shouldn’t be given to parochial schools is that it’s an attempt by local, state, and possibly federal government to impose a religion on the populous.
In several cases, vouchers were championed by religious fundamentalist groups or by socially conservative politicians. Many of them have initiated campaigns to indoctrinate religious studies and practices in public schools. However, they’ve often failed, in part to state and national constitutional laws which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over the other (in other words, establishing separation between church and state).
To these groups, vouchers are a way of taking students out of the public schools and placing them in parochial schools. This may sound legitimate until one realizes that the vouchers are (you guessed it) publically financed. And, just as it has been mentioned already, this tidbit of fact means that government mandates can sneak its way into these schools and essentially convert them to something akin to a public school. As a result, separation of church and state is now at the front door of a once private religious institution.
Despite ideological arguments to the contrary, vouchers as they exist are flawed. It may do more harm to private and parochial schools. Also, it will not improve the education of students stuck in inner-city public schools. It’s no wonder so many parochial schools are simply saying no to voucher laws.