School vouchers have been a hot topic ever since the mention of the infamous Betsy DeVos' nomination for Secretary of Education, and even more so since her induction. Trump has even called school choice 'the civil rights issue of our time'. A school voucher, simply put, is a sum of money given to a student to pay tuition for a school outside their district, usually a private one. Around the country, legislators have been taking action to implement policies that focus on diverting state education budgets towards the voucher system, which claims to 'give students around the country more educational options, leading to better performance'.

This claim is both theoretically and empirically false; there is no conceivable notion that would indicate giving students thousands of dollars to leave their district is beneficial to their performance, and when attempted, student performance was even shown to decline.

What the statistics show

According to standardized tests conducted in the Milwaukee School District, just 13 percent of voucher students scored proficient in math and 11 percent made the bar in reading. That’s worse on both counts than students in any of the city’s public schools. When the same was done in Cleveland, voucher students in most grades performed worse than their public schooled peers in math, though they did do better in reading.

In New Orleans, voucher students who typically struggle academically haven’t moved to grade-level work any faster over the past two years than students in the public schools, many of which have grades of D or F, statistics show. However, data that shows any semblance to vouchers having a positive effect has easily been dis-proven by the bare fact that there are so many more public school students than voucher students; the sample size is hence much more applicable.

Nevertheless, both research and common sense indicate that putting money towards a student to travel all the way to a private school rather than putting that money into improving the public school system is inefficient and a ridiculous waste of money.

Money in all the wrong places

When asked what the state and federal education budgets should actually be allocated towards it the vast majority of professional teachers have answered in the following way; put that money towards the needs of the students.

Smaller class sizes, better and more diverse sets of resources, increased parental involvement, and more effectively qualified teachers have all shown to vastly increase student involvement, performance, and general well-being; yet these categories represent so little of the budget allocation, especially at state levels. Funding also needs to be diverted much more to rural and inner city schools; which ironically, despite the outrage from politicians calling anti-voucher action 'an attack on the lower class', hold very little of the current federal education budget. This evidence and professional opinion should show that these voucher schemes are not about school reform; they're about ideology and politics.

Some view it even as an attempt by the church to intervene in matters of state education, which in some cases (i.e. Betsy DeVos) is true. But that's not what teachers and parents care about. What they care about is the utmost opportunity for future generations of children to achieve success in their environment: that means putting money in the right places, and not in the voucher system.