Q&A Friday #92: School Vouchers

Question: “For either Melissa or John: The State of Louisiana is enacting for the first time what is essentially a school voucher program in the greater New Orleans area. It’s called a “scholarship” program. In essence, only those Louisiana residents who fall below a certain income threshold are eligible to apply for these “scholarships” and, if awarded, use them to attend private schools. Assuming both of you are supporters of educational voucher programs, how would you respond to a tax-paying resident who just barely doesn’t qualify for a “scholarship,” but who has sacrificed to send his kids to a private school anyway, who complains about the injustice that someone else will get to send their kid to this school for free while he will still have to sacrifice to fork over the money to send his kid to the same school? Would you consider this clear inequity an acceptable practice simply because it might give a disadvantaged youth an opportunity at a better education? If you do think this inequity is acceptable, would it then be fair to say that you would be supporting a kind of class-based affirmative action program?” — huckupchuck

Answer: I’d respond to that resident by saying that I agree it is unfair that he’s not getting a “scholarship” and that I would like to see the law changed to include him. As a matter of fact, I’d like to see every parent in America given a “scholarship” and allowed to send his kid to whatever school he believes will do the best job of educating him (within reason, of course. The Wahabi school of Jihad shouldn’t be allowed to exist in the US, much less be eligible for vouchers). That being said, if the program works for the poor, it’ll be much easier to expand it to the middle-class and wealthy later.

“Would you consider this clear inequity an acceptable practice simply because it might give a disadvantaged youth an opportunity at a better education?”

I see it as an acceptable practice because if it works with the “disadvantaged youth,” it makes it easier to spread the program across all income levels — although it is worth noting that poor kids tend to end up getting the short end of the educational stick. That’s because if the public schools in the area are terrible, they generally aren’t going to have the means to home school or send their kids to private school.

If you do think this inequity is acceptable, would it then be fair to say that you would be supporting a kind of class-based affirmative action program?

No, it would not. Unlike the voucher law, Affirmative Action is based on race and is every bit as immoral and in my opinion, unconstitutional (It clearly violates the “equal protection” clause of the Constitution) as the Jim Crow laws were even if the impact isn’t as large.

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