Since I’ve been critical of George Will in the past, I think it is only fair that I should highlight his recent column,Â which contains some points with which I agree. He writes about a Florida court’s decision to suspend a school voucher program, and this decision’s impact on students. While his language is peppered with predictable jabs at Democrats, his basic point, that it seems crazy to force students to stay in failing schools when other options are available, deserves further consideration.
Florida’s Supreme Court fulfilled the desires of the teachers unions, and disrupted the lives of the 733 children and their parents, by declaring, in a 5 to 2 ruling, that the voucher program is incompatible with the state constitution. Specifically, and incredibly, the court held that the OSP violates the stipulation, which voters put into the constitution in 1998, that the state shall provide a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.”
The usual Liberal argument against school vouchers is that they erode support for Public schools and inundate functioning schools with too many students. While this may be true, it is not necessarily a good argument for the alternative, which is forcing those students to stay in failing schools. And of course, teacher’s unions hate vouchers because, if fewer students come to their schools, there will be fewer jobs for them.
We ought to be able to provide excellent education to all our students, and we aren’t. I propose making it illegal for k-12 schools to charge tuition. Yes, you heard me. Every school would be given the same amount of public funding by the government, and any student could go to any school. Teachers would be paid the same salary anywhere, including, possibly, performance incentives or any other salary adjustment. Socialized education, essentially, and probably totally antithetical to what George means, but a solution to the problem that bothers him.