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Goals and Objectives | Christian Education | Resources for teaching| WV News | Articles

Vouchers Do Not Equal Victory
(Neither are Charter Schools or Tax Credits or Savings Accounts )

For a quick read see:

Should We Work to Obtain Vouchers?


How Would People Pay for Private Schooling? What about Vouchers?


From an email from a very knowledgeable source:

“As a staunch advocate of parents’ rights, I am totally and utterly opposed to the political and federal agenda of school choice.  Concisely, it is a means for federal government that funds the vouchers to gain control of private schools and privatize education (charter schools) run by unaccountable businessmen.  Any school that accepts one “voucher/school choice” student is then regulated by the mandates of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The result is that all private schools will become the same as public schools and the parents will have no choice.

“This is a major agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a lobbyist group that sends legislators back with model legislation to get passed in favor of its business members. We must remind ourselves that education is an art that involves human souls and not a business designed to produce products.”



Snips follow from articles explaining why vouchers, and their cousins Charter Schools and Tax Credits, should not be pursued.


Some think tax-credits are better than vouchers, but ultimately they are only camouflaged vouchers.

Charter schools are just public schools on a longer leash. A dog on a long leash is still a dog on a leash.

By Marshall Fritz

Also see Charter Schools are Deceptive.


Liberals have played Bre'r Rabbit on vouchers. The Supreme Fox — at the request of conservatives and libertarians — has just thrown the liberals into the briar patch they love: More-Big-Government and Less-Self-Reliance . I ndeed, vouchers will harm education in four ways:

1. Vouchers come with strings attached. These soon become chains. Since government will write the tuition check, even if the parents deliver it, government will become the dominant customer for private education. (Voucher advocates make big noises about eternal vigilance, but these silent watchdogs have shown their true colors by failing to complain about the admissions lottery in the Cleveland voucher model.)

2. Vouchers entice into dependency today's self-reliant families who are paying for private schooling. These new recipients of OPM (Other People's money) will be weakened as are all welfare recipients.

3. Vouchers blindfold or hamstring the private school admissions office, resulting in the number of troublemakers gradually increasing to unmanageable proportions.
4. Vouchers prevent cost breakthroughs. Who's going to invent a high quality $2000/year school if the voucher is 4-, 6-, or 8-thousand dollars? In fact, vouchers will raise costs of schooling just as has government involvement in health care and colleges.

These four factors will gradually change the culture of private schools to be public school look-alikes, albeit run by private operators. Do any of us think Mussolini improved socialism by allowing private ownership?

In blunt-speak, the Left is going to implement the voucher, not the Right.

By Marshall Fritz


Re: Supreme Court decision "Zelman, Superintendent of Public Instruction of Ohio, et al. v. Simmons-Harris et al."

The Court cites the "valid secular purpose of providing educational assistance to poor children in a demonstrably failing public school system." And that little sentence begins to point us toward the truth about the program, which isn’t about freedom but merely an extension of welfare rights.

In other words, the people who do not pay the bulk of the taxes – most Ohio schools are funded largely via property taxes – are getting the bulk of the benefits, while those who do pay the taxes are ineligible for the benefits. If the middle and upper-middle class want to send their children to private schools, they must shell out twice: once for public schools for everyone else and once again for the schools they actually use. Meanwhile, the poor are not only not paying into the public-school system, but now receive a direct cash transfer from those who do pay into the system. In other words, it’s welfare.

The Ohio legislation, passed in 1995, has the government pay $2,250 in tuition for a "low-income student" (as defined by the social welfare bureaucracy) who enrolls in a private school. The participating school agrees to allow the state to control its tuition and also agrees to surrender control over admission requirements: crucially, the religious school may not discriminate on grounds of religion, according to the Ohio statute, and that includes in the hiring of teachers and principals.

Not that the participating schools object. Catholic schools in this country, and many mainline evangelical schools, long ago gave up their doctrinal identities as the core of the mission.

So here is the essence of the program approved by the Supreme Court. It takes taxes paid by the earning classes to give to poor parents who enjoy an exclusive right to leave public schools they weren’t paying for anyway to attend private schools which now accept controls over admissions and tuition and curriculum (becoming public schools, in effect).

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.


Here's a safe prediction for 2003: the Republican majorities in Washington will not even consider abolishing the Department of Education, and none of the states will shut down their so-called free, so-called public school systems. Countless kids from poor families will be forced to attend government schools where they'll be just as likely to be a victim of a violent crime as to learn anything useful or even graduate.

Given these certainties, some libertarians believe we need to do something right now to save these poor kids from their 13-year prison sentence (where else but in prisons and in public schools are the warehoused inmates constantly watched, and subjected to warrantless search at any time?). Thus, the "do-something-now" libertarians are pushing for voucher programs, since the United States Supreme Court has cleared the way for them to do so with its decision last summer in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, which held that voucher programs that allow students to attend religious schools do not violate the First Amendment.

The short-term consequences of voucher programs will almost certainly be positive , of course, especially for the students who receive them. The children in Cleveland who won in the Zelman case will now be able to attend a private school far superior to the government-operated school they'll leave behind. One can hardly help but feel good for those kids, whose potential futures are undeniably brighter because of vouchers.

But government money means government control, and in the long run, those private schools won't be so private at all , or much different from the government schools to which they were intended to provide an alternative. Every available historical example makes it abundantly clear that when government provides money for something, government expects control over that thing…

By J. H. Huebert

This is the trap awaiting private schools that accept tax-defrayed vouchers . In the 1941 case of Wickard vs. Filburn, the Supreme Court said that "It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes."

So, to obtain Federal aid for its schools, a State's Department of Education signs contracts binding them to Federal regulations . Tax-defrayed State vouchers will do the same to recipient private schools.

A few schools will remain completely private. When the trap springs, and the victims scream out their anguish, the truly private schools' owners will receive their vindication.

On them, ultimately, will the fate of American education depend.

By Gordon Francis Corbett


Vouchers have nothing to do with improving public schools and everything to do with controlling and thereby destroying private education.

"We know from efforts to regulate charter schools, compulsory education laws, efforts to regulate homeschoolers, and education management companies that sacrifice their business models for government contracts, that regardless of the circumstances, the government will never stop pushing to gain more control over private decisions about education."

With each new turn of the screw, more and more people are facing the fact that government is no parent. Even the allure of free day care cannot forever prevent mothers from rescuing their precious children. Our Berlin Wall is teetering. Exercise genuine school choice, take your children out of government school and, from a safe distance, watch it fall.

By Cathy Cuthbert


I am not here because of low test scores . I'm not here because I'm outraged by the infamous history standards, or because I'm alarmed by the agenda of Goals 2000, or because I want to see the restoration of phonics, or because I oppose bilingual education, or because I abhor the Prussian model of state schooling that America adopted so long ago. I am not here to fight the scandal of sex education. I am not even here because children are routinely murdered, maimed, nd otherwise preyed upon in government schools, nor finally am I here because God has been excluded and denied by the government schools.

I am here because government schooling exists.

Government schooling is a bad choice.

Low test scores and violence are to government schooling what food shortages and corruption are to Soviet collective farming—inevitable.

Parents have a positive, solemn and sacred duty to educate their children . This is firmly rooted in natural law and Christian tradition, and backed up by common sense. Civilization depends on the strength of families. To the extent that families abnegate their duties, and relinquish their rights, they are weakened, and so is civil society. To the extent that government accepts or usurps those rights and duties which do not belong to it, such a government exceeds its legitimate authority and becomes tyrannical.

Remember that the government doesn't have any of its own money so when we speak of government funding of education, we are referring to another fundamental injustice (or bad choice), called wealth redistribution. So if it's wrong fundamentally, distributing it a little wider won't make it right.

I do not oppose vouchers because they will burden private schools with onerous regulations, or because they will lead to the secularization of religious schools, the homogenization of private and alternative schools, weakened families, the expansion of the unions, increased costs, and yes, decreased test scores. Those are merely the inevitable results. Vouchers are wrong because they make the same bad choice as government schooling. Vouchers fully embrace the error of government funding of education.

Far from sowing independence, vouchers encourage a camouflaged (and hence more insidious) dependence which will reap the same delusion and contempt as any other entitlement.

Government schooling is wrong because it weakens families , invites tyranny, and redistributes wealth. Government vouchers are wrong for the same reasons. More than 700 years ago St. Thomas Aquinas made an airtight case against doing evil (however small) to achieve good (however great).

By Douglas Dewey


I once believed that tax-funded school vouchers were a good stepping stone between today's state-controlled schools and tomorrow's free-market education. But no more.

Prudence caused my switch away from vouchers; later, Principle ignited passion; now, political Practicality also convinces me that tax-funded vouchers are a bad idea.

For years, prudence has been moving freedom-oriented people to reject vouchers (e.g., Jacob Hornberger, Gary North, Lew Rockwell, Hans Sennholz). Dwight Lee said it well in The Freeman, July 1986: "If the move to purely private schools begins to accelerate, the public school lobby can, and surely will, protect its privileged position by embracing educational vouchers. As strange as it may sound to advocates of educational vouchers, if the voucher approach to education ever becomes a serious political possibility, it will be as a means of reducing competition in education, not increasing it." He's right, and I did a 180 degree turnaround in 179 milliseconds.

Hobbling today's private schools with state controls is too high a price to pay for "choice." While vouchers will provide a flurry of competition and change, real improvement would be delayed for decades until vouchers prove that they, too, cannot repair a tax-funded, i.e., government controlled schooling system.

Freedom-loving voucher proponents like Clint Bolick recognize the problem of expanding state authority over private education and say we have to draft voucher proposals "carefully" to avoid the risk. But it can't be done! If the government is paying the bills, politicians_not to mention the public at large_will demand oversight because they want to know what they are getting for their tax dollars.

While the above prudential "He who pays the piper calls the tune" argument has convinced some conservatives and libertarians to renounce vouchers, a recently rediscovered principled insight might convince many more, perhaps so many that support for vouchers will collapse. The late Max Victor Belz, a grain dealer in Grundy County, Iowa, said in 1951: "I don't want my children fed or clothed by the state, but if I had to choose, I would prefer that to them being educated by the state."

Think about it: If a "free lunch" at noon is welfare, why isn't a "free math lesson" at ten o'clock also welfare? Government education is the granddaddy of all welfare programs and the linchpin of the welfare state. The "free education" notion has seduced not only the needy away from responsibility and into dependence, but the middle and upper classes as well. We all have adopted the entitlement attitude that the government "owes" children a "free" education at a government-run facility. Conservatives who would be outraged to have the government take over the feeding, clothing and sheltering of 88% of America's children have little difficulty permitting the state to take charge of their education, arguably a more intimate and sacred responsibility than their material needs.

Once you grasp the welfare role of government schooling, you can see exactly where tax-funded vouchers would lead: to an expansion of the educational welfare state, not a contraction. State-granted vouchers would make welfare recipients out of many of those 12% who have managed so far to resist the temptation to have others pay for their children's education.

This principled argument is already attracting voucher advocates to reconsider. For example, economist David R. Henderson, who has written pro-voucher articles for the Hoover Institution and Insight magazine (1/10/94), and was formerly an economic advisor to President Reagan, now says, "Vouchers are a horrible idea that will only increase dependence on the government."

What is the answer to the school mess? We need full separation of school and state. The Russians allowed the state to take over the farms in the 1920s and 30s; they ended up with lots of farms and not enough food. We Americans allowed the state to take over our schools in the 1840s and 50s. Now we have 85,000 government-run K-12 schools and not enough education.

I believe privately-funded vouchers are the major part of the answer.  J. Patrick Rooney, president of the Golden Rule Insurance Company in Indianapolis, started the private voucher movement in 1991. Now there are 23 private voucher centers around the country, supporting 10,000 children. We need 23,000 centers supporting 15 million children.

How can we confidently predict Americans will give $16 billion in charity to help kids from poor families go to schools better than those they attend today? Three reasons:

  • Americans give $100 billion to churches;
  • When schooling is no longer financed by government, Americans can demand a tax cut of the amount now spent on schooling, $300 billion. Private schools will cost something under half that, freeing over $150 billion per year.
  • Americans already give $27 billion in charity to higher education.

Besides, little kids are cuter than college kids.

By Marshall Fritz


Tax funding of schooling infantilizes parents by taking over their duty to decide how much to spend on their children's education.

(P)arents lap up the real-estate agent's drivel that "this school district is one of the best in the state." One wag says, "In the race of the slow, someone must be first."

The rapid decline of tax-run schools in the last three decades, punctuated by the Columbine Public High School killings, has made moving to a better school district less attractive to the middle class. (It was never economically feasible for the poor.) In hopes of relief, many conservatives and libertarians are proposing a tax-financed option of sending children to a private school. This is so attractive to blacks that their support for vouchers now outstrips white, and it is so much in keeping with liberalism that Democrats support for vouchers is now higher than Republican.

School vouchers, charter schools and camouflaged vouchers in the form of tax-credits, will continue the infantalizing of the parents of the 46 million already on the dole; worse, they will entice many of the families of 5 million children who use voluntarily funded schools to surrender their independence, too.

"Choice" proponents have misidentified the problem. Americans are not so much faced with a shortage of choice; rather, we are faced with a shortage of responsibility. Government provision of a voucher, allowing parents to make a red-pajama/blue-pajama decision, will glue even more parents to the government fiscal nipple, a reasonable position of children of the state.

Further, by blindfolding the private school's admissions office, vouchers destroy the very schools they purport to help. Today, private schools choose families who are willing to sacrifice to pay for their children's education. With a voucher, families who care little about education will be indistinguishable from the sacrificially-minded parents. While today's private school can work with 1-5 percent troublemakers, the voucher can increase this to 10-30 percent, overwhelming and trashing the private schools' culture down to the level of today's government schools.

When we repeal tax-financing of schools, parents will be left with the awesome decision, "How much should we spend on the children's education?" No other factor will get parents so involved in their children's education as paying for it.

And what about the have-nots? Full separation of school and state is the surest way to help them break out of the poverty cycle of dependence. Yes, $25 billion in additional contributions to private scholarship foundations are needed, but this increase is prudently predictable considering the American history of giving (presently $175 billion) and the $300 billion tax cut that will accompany Educational Freedom.


Michael Lynch, writing in Reason, warned back in January of 2001 , following the passage of No Child Left Behind: "Prepare yourself for a larger role for the federal government in education. And prepare yourself for federally funded vouchers for low-income students in failing schools." (Italics mine.) Former Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne has stated bluntly: "Vouchers will result in government control of private schools…. [A]nytime government money goes anywhere, there are strings attached. Vouchers would be used as a means of exerting federal control over private and parochial schools."

Now let us just suppose that by a miracle of Biblical proportions, programs dispensing state-funded vouchers exclusively to parents in the future managed to remain free of federal oversight. Would this mean that private, religious schools would be able to maintain their distinct identities? The longest standing state-funded voucher program, in Milwaukee, has been in existence around 12 years. This program is the logical place to look for evidence of danger, and it is there. The Christian Law Association recently issued this statement identifying the problem :

In three words – loss of autonomy. The Wisconsin statute contains an "opt out" provision. No private Christian school that accepts vouchers may require a pupil to participate in any religious activity if the pupil's parent or guardian submits a written notice that he or she should be exempted. Furthermore, pupil selection must occur on a random basis. Church schools that accept voucher students may not limit enrollment to church families or even to religious families. Finally, the state has established uniform financial accounting standards and each participating private school, including the religious schools, must be audited annually.

In other words, if schools take money whose ultimate source is government – even at the state level – they must play by the state's rules. This was what Joe Loconte, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society, at the Heritage Foundation, warned back as 1999 in Policy Review, that Wisconsin "is not so much a model as it is an omen – a case study in how choice programs could become a Trojan horse for government meddling in private education." He observes that before the constitutionality of the voucher program in Milwaukee was upheld by the lower court, "opponents tried to saddle religious schools with a hodge-podge of federal and state regulations…."

Andrew Coulson, author of the monumental study Market Education: The Unknown History, wrote :

Unfortunately, the historical record is unambiguous when it comes to elementary and secondary (as opposed to college) education. In every case in the history of k-12 education of which I am aware, state subsidies of private schools have been followed by pervasive state regulation of those schools.

Loconte quotes Greg Doyle of the ACLU: "Any [private] school that takes public funds ought to be required to do the things that public schools do."

In this light, let us consider Lew Rockwell's "Voucher Socialism" , which reports on the one program we haven't considered so far, down in Florida. Private schools there must, he writes, must (1) file huge and ongoing financial reports to the state (there is no privacy); (2) submit to all federal antidiscrimination laws (thus forcing single-sex schools participating in the program to change their admission policies, for example); (3) accept voucher students on a religious-neutral basis without regard to the student's past academic history; (4) only employ teachers with at least three years teaching experience in public or private schools; (5) accept as full tuition and fees the amount provided by the state for each student-price controls; (6) agree not to compel any student attending the private school on a voucher to profess a specific belief, pray or worship – no independent curriculum; (7) grant the government veto power over disciplinary procedures, so that no voucher student can be expelled for being a troublemaker.

But Yates, the voucher program in Ohio does not give money to any private school; it gives money to the parents and lets them use it to choose which school to send their children to. True – as I've noted. My response is twofold: (1) What matters is not who the money flows to, but where it is flowing from, and (2) It matters little whether it is flowing from state educrats or from federal educrats because of the web of entanglements between the two.

The long and the short of it: vouchers are a snare and a delusion. They will bring a sense of short term freedom to choose followed by long term misery.

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, a former Senior Policy Advisor at the US Department of Education who spent years gathering evidence of behavior modification programs and other components of planning for a completely centralized society being put into place in government schools. She went on to produce the meticulously documented The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America: A Chronological Paper Trail. In this article she observes how the dumbing down that has been the basic warp and woof of government schools will now be extended to private schools, once the latter begin accepting "vouchered" students in large numbers. This will include the destruction of their liberal arts curriculums in favor of school-to-work style vocational training, and the stripping away of both religious identity and sound moral education in favor of the prevailing multiculturalist relativism. It is true that nothing in the Zelman decision or in any law forces a private school to accept "vouchered" students. However, because of the ease of using a state-funded voucher, not just parents who refuse to use the voucher will find private education priced out of their reach, but those schools that refuse to accept "vouchered" students will find themselves unable to compete and with a choice between changing their policy or closing their doors.

A Christian school deeply committed to its mission may bite the bullet or refuse to accept the voucher; but a less committed Christian school down the street decides it can live with the regulations and oversight and accepts the voucher. Some parents from the first school deicde they can get roughly the same result from the voucher-redeeming school down the street and beat a fast path to free Christian schooling. The first school may now be faced with the prospects of dropping its music program, not renovating a gym in bad repair, or even closing its doors. The mere existence of the voucher pits mission-compromising schools against uncompromising schools, with the upper hand given to the compromisers. (Douglas Dewey)

Thus according to Iserbyt, "school choice" offering vouchers is indeed a Trojan Horse, leading us toward "the socialist, corporate fascist, workforce training agenda for the global planned economy."

The upshot is that we simply cannot consider the voucher problem in the absence of the larger history both of government education itself, and of the perceived threat that private, religious schools (and home schooling) represent to the efforts underway to create an army of unthinking drones to service the global economy under a world government. After all, if one can control the education of the next generation, then one can control society – by having created a population who, like the "somatized" zombies in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, actually love their rulers! (And speaking of drugs, think of our educational system’s growing use of legal mind-altering substances such as Ritalin and Prozac!)

Others have suggested income tax credits (emphasis mine-KCP) instead of vouchers – so that ostensibly no government ever sees the money. Unfortunately, as with any government-designated dollar amount, the government does see the money, however indirectly. Bureaucrats will still demand "accountability," i.e., verification that what would have been tax dollars are spent in a certain way (probably through a tuition receipt – thus also creating a paper trail to the institution that issued the receipt).

The only real solution is for parents to follow the leads being taken by Marshall Fritz, Rev. E. Ray Moore and others, and get their children out of government schools – and to do so without succumbing to the temptations of vouchers.

To sum up: come on, folks, this is not rocket science. Government money is government money, and government money means government control.

Moreover, we simply cannot look at this voucher situation in isolation from some of the huge (and well-funded!) movements of the past couple of decades: America 2000, Outcome-Based-Education, Goals 2000, School-To-Work, and now Bush's No Child Left Behind. Is anyone really so naive as to think that the federal government and other power-hungry elites will magically reverse a course established over several decades and suddenly allow parents "educational choice," no strings attached, with the key being the voucher?

By Steven Yates


I want to take responsibility for educating my children. I don't want education welfare. It's an assault on my dignity and on the integrity of my family. It would tempt more families to trek down to the capitol every year to beg for more government dollars. I want to be independent, not dependent on government "help."

Incidentally, my criticisms of vouchers apply also to the tax-credit proposal (emphasis mine—KCP) introduced as House Bill 1309 in this year's legislative session. That bill would essentially allow people to raise others' taxes (or reduce their tax refund, which amounts to the same thing) in order to subsidize contributions to organizations that offer vouchers to low-income students.

I believe voucher programs are the political equivalent of "get rich quick" schemes. They look great on paper, but they rarely work well in practice, and most often they end up costing the participant dearly.

What, then, is the answer? A number of organizations offer market vouchers totally independently of the state.

So let us put aside the "get free quick" schemes that promise markets but will deliver only more government. Let us shoulder the difficult burden of creating true market alternatives and whittling away at the government school monopoly. It will be a slow and arduous journey, but one that can actually get us where we want to go.

By Ari Armstrong


There is a rule in all things associated with state funding. Anyone who ignores this rule is either naive or suicidal. Here is the rule: If you take the state’s nickel, you accept the state’s noose. You may prefer an older version: “If you take the queen’s shilling, you do the queen’s bidding.” In short, you do not get something for nothing.

The overriding economic question regarding educational vouchers is this one: “At what price will parents sell their birthright, namely, control over their children’s education?”

The amazing fact is that the education voucher issue has changed very little since The Freeman published an earlier version of this essay in May 1976. The political conservatives are still trying to “clean up the public schools” by introducing competition through vouchers. The Christian school movement is still confident that vouchers will help them financially but without any negative side effects, such as the introduction of controls by the state. The public school teacher unions are still totally opposed to vouchers because vouchers will create “elite schools”—supposedly a very undemocratic thing to allow, at least until it is time to choose a college for your children.

Some things have changed, however. The public schools cost more to operate per child enrolled, even discounting for price inflation. Public schools are far less safe. Achievement scores have dropped. And the voters are finally aware of the extent of the decline.

What I wrote in 1976 is equally true today: the fundamental issue is the locus of sovereignty in education. We need to ask: Who is responsible for the education of children—parents, churches, or the state? My answer has not changed: parents. My political analysis has not changed: any element of coercion by the state, including financing, shifts the locus of sovereignty away from parents toward the state. My economic analysis also has not changed: to discover who is operationally sovereign over education in any society, follow the money.

By affirming the legitimacy of tax-supported education, voters have attempted to transfer their responsibilities for the education of their children to another agency, the state.

The bureaucrats gain their greatest control in tax-supported systems. Sovereignty is so diluted at the level of the individual citizen that the expertise of the professional and tenured bureaucrats is overwhelmingly powerful.

Until men are willing to cut off the political funding of the established church of America, they will see the educational crisis escalate.

As private schools continue to replace the disintegrating government schools at the primary and secondary levels, the state’s educational bureaucrats will have to take decisive action to protect their monopoly. One way to accomplish this is to refuse to certify any more schools. (I am assuming that outright abolition will not be tolerated politically or in the courts.) This approach may work for a time, since parents are concerned about quality schools. By some peculiar twist of logic, the parents of private school children somehow believe that the state licensing boards are competent to certify educational performance, despite the fact that the state schools, which the boards have authorized, are anathema to the parents in question.

Private school administrators, who come to parents in the name of a superior educational program, are equally hypnotized by the boards of certification. The most intelligent response is that made by Robert Thoburn, owner of the profit-making Fairfax Christian School of Fairfax, Virginia: “If the bureaucrats want me to certify their schools, they can come to me and I’ll look over their programs. That’s my view of certification.”

If the certification ploy does not work, then the last hope of state educational bureaucrats is the voucher system, If parents continue to send their children to uncertified schools, then the state must find a way to convince private school administrators that they must register with the state and conform their programs to state educational standards. The voucher system is the most logical means of achieving this goal. Vouchers will create a second, pseudo-free market school system, using “free” in both senses: independent and without cost to the users. The state-operated schools will then compete with the state-licensed schools. Almost no third alternative will be economically possible.

Those parents who want their children out of the government-operated schools (which their taxes support) will also be paying for the operation of voucher-supported, state-licensed schools. These parents must turn down the first subsidy (free public education in a government school), turn down a second subsidy (vouchers for government-licensed schools), and come up with after-tax income to finance their children’s education in a truly independent school.

This is assuming they can find such a school. To do so, they must locate other parents equally committed religiously and ideologically to the principle of independent education, and also financially able to put their preference into action. How many concerned parents will do this? How many private school administrators will be able to operate a school while denying admittance to those who would pay with vouchers? How many of these schools with total commitment to private education will there be? I can tell you: very, very few.

Not until the blight so obvious in the government-operated schools has spread to the government-licensed voucher schools will parents even consider bearing the second tax (vouchers) and find money to pay for an independent education. In short, vouchers are the most promising tool for the suppression of independent private education now at the disposal of state educational bureaucrats.

The state may adopt vouchers for education on an experimental basis, in order to test the scheme. If it does foster independent education, vouchers will be scrapped. But they will not have to be scrapped.

Vouchers may well become a permanent fixture of our government education system. If so, it will be for a reason: the school voucher offers vast new powers of control over a vibrant and growing independent school system that threatens to undercut government schools.

If vouchers are to be stopped, they will have to be stopped by parents who recognize the double taxation nature of the voucher scheme. Those who truly want independent schools and are willing to pay for them must not seek after vouchers, for vouchers are the very seal of doom for the independent school system. Pseudo- market schemes generally lead to anti-market results. Good results stem from good principles. Vouchers are an intellectual, moral, and educational disaster. They will not work to expand the realm of freedom.

By Gary North


If proponents of school vouchers get their way, Americans might well be permanently saddled with one of the most massive government welfare programs in history. What began many years ago as a modest proposal to help those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder with their educational needs now threatens to encompass every child in America.

What is actually needed for a truly competitive educational industry is a free market in education, not another giant welfare scheme. And a truly free market would entail the end of all state involvement in education, including the termination of the educational welfare program known as vouchers.

School vouchers operate the way all welfare programs do, that is, by using the state’s taxing powers to take money from those to whom it belongs and distributing it to people to whom it does not belong. Of course, we have become so accustomed to this process that we rarely ask a fundamentally important question: Where is the morality in all this? Why shouldn’t parents bear the responsibility for the education of their own children? Why should people who don’t have children be forced to fund the educational expenses of someone else’s children?

And make no mistake about it: Despite claims from voucher proponents that vouchers are a “market-oriented” device designed to bring “competition” to the educational marketplace, the truth is that vouchers are just another wealth-transfer program. Families with children use voucher schemes to get into the pocketbooks of those who don’t have children. The process brings to mind Frédéric Bastiat’s famous dictum, “The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.”

The separation of school and state through the repeal of compulsory-attendance laws, school taxes, and educational welfare would be infinitely superior to the multitude of voucher schemes that are being proposed all over the nation. Not only would educational liberty be consistent with fundamental moral principles, it also would help us restore America’s heritage of individual liberty and free markets.

The end of state involvement in education would finally bring an end to the perpetual political wrangling over whether there should be prayer in public schools, whether creationism or evolution should be taught, and which books should be in the school library. Each family would be free to choose the educational vehicles that best conform to its own beliefs and values.

Educational freedom would remove decisions on education from the hands of state officials and restore sovereignty to the family, where it belongs. Moreover, free enterprise in education would enable entrepreneurs to compete freely in the furnishing of an infinite diversity of educational vehicles for consumers. A process of free and open competition in the urnishing of education would produce what the free market always produces — the highest-quality product possible.

Who stands to gain the most from a free market in education? People on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, especially those families whose children are trapped in government schools and who also have seen firsthand the destructive nature of government welfare programs. These are the people who should be leading the fight against vouchers and in favor of a free market in education.

By Jacob G. Hornberger


(P)arents make adjustments in spending priorities and lifestyles, so they can pay as much as possible on their own. Many will find that some form of independent education is entirely affordable and that investing in their children is far more gratifying than investing in houses and cars. But there will still be those who struggle and cannot reasonably afford ndependent options. These people need and deserve help.

The answer is quite simple — private vouchers, also known as scholarships. Millions, possibly billions, of dollars in private donations now flow into public schools, all to little effect. Why not redirect that money to efforts that would make a real difference — in both excellence and independence? We have the means. We have the ability. Do we have the will?

This is the question we must ask ourselves. Do we have the will? Are we prepared to take back our children?  

Now is the time to ask yourself how you can help those who need a hand in choosing freedom in education. If you are a person of only moderate means, help in a small way — help one child, help one school, ask your friends to join you in sponsoring a child. If you have more, give more. If you have much, invest in a real future and stop throwing your money away on things that don’t work. If you’re a leader, take a look at your priorities and what you have to offer those you serve. If you have no money to give, give encouragement or time. Education belongs to us. It is our right and our responsibility. Just as we look out for our neighbors’ safety and property, just as we lend a helping hand when a relative is ill or a friend in need, so we must extend our willing charity to the future of all of our children. We must empower others as we wish to be empowered. Freedom not shared is freedom lost.

  By Tammy Drennan


Parents are angry...and with good cause. Schools are failing their children in increasingly unprecedented ways -- academically, socially, morally, and physically. It's good to see parents getting up in arms about it. Let's hope they stay that way.

Unfortunately, what these parents want will make very little difference for their children. The cause of their children's school problems is the entity that runs the schools -- government. The parents have been led to believe that they can transform that entity into something else, so that their children's schools will also be transformed.

School vouchers do not change the underlying power structure, nor do they put parents in charge. The government remains the underlying power structure, parents remain second-in-command (or lower), and children remain vulnerable.

If parents were in charge they would be able to choose teachers, curriculum, activities, everything. They would get to define education. Instead, they get to choose among a limited number of schools that vary by mostly small degrees. They don’t get to define anything; they only get to choose among government-defined and approved options. When the government must approve your choice, you don’t have much choice at all.

Vouchers constitute a false and heartbreaking hope. All the energy going into promoting them could be going into creating real options, free of state control and truly under parental control.


1. Links to 30 thought-provoking articles about vouchers and school choice. This is one of the most important issues we face regarding education today. By chasing the false hope of vouchers and “school choice,” we may very well destroy what liberty we have left.

2. My Child, My Choice

3. For a detailed debate pro-and con discussion see


4. Vouchers will “public-ize” private schools rather than “privatize” public schools as some opponents of vouchers claim.

5. School choice without vouchers (4Choice) is an idea that advocates “Dollars Follow Scholars.” It is not a bad idea, but it is best for the government to be completely out of the education picture.

6. Why Christian Education Is Important

7. Vouchers: A Thorn By Any Other Name

8. (W)hen government money is involved, sooner or later, government wants to run the show…Once the government pays for all schools, all schools will be government schools…Those who want to control all of education, cradle to grave, designed charter schools as an end run around the private and homeschool exceptions to compulsory education…Vouchers and even tax credits have just as many problems. The devil is always in the details and we all know how carefully our elected representatives read the bills! Independence is the only way to keep our freedoms… Because we were not tied down to a (Charter School) curriculum, we were free to jump on any opportunity that looked promising.

9. What about tax-funded vouchers, tax credits, and charter schools? (many articles)


How about Education Savings Accounts?

Government-funded programs for home educators are enticing. They provide free materials and educational experiences to home educating families. But what price do parents pay to participate in these programs? Is there a cost to the homeschooling movement?

Are we welcoming a Trojan Horse into our midst through these programs? What will be the impact on the future generations of Christian home educators? Exposing a Trojan Horse interviews leaders of Christian state homeschool organizations, researchers, and parents to uncover the hidden costs of parents participating in government-funded programs for home educators. This powerful DVD exposes the dangers of government-funded homeschooling.

How about Education Savings Accounts?


Also see:

Should We Work for Vouchers?

Vouchers: A Thorn By Any Other Name


He who pays the piper calls the tune. Old Proverb

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