Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

October 31, 2007

We have vouchers for higher education

Filed under: Accountability, education — texased @ 1:14 pm

This is from one of my favorite blogs about an argument for school vouchers.

The Washington Monthly

And yet, despite its thoroughness, it somehow fails to address the single biggest problem with school vouchers: oversight. If you’re going to receive taxpayer dollars, then you have to agree to taxpayer oversight. That means that NCLB applies to you. It means that minimum state curriculum requirements apply to you. It means that teacher union rules apply to you. It means you have a lot less authority to pick and choose which kids you’re willing to accept.

Well, what Kevin Drum says would appear to be true except that it doesn’t seem to apply to higher education. Right now, the federal government will give you money to attend a private college, perhaps even run by a religious organization with no oversight in terms of graduation rates, teacher qualifications, or curriculum. Basically, the colleges have say they don’t discriminate and that they’re accredited by one of a number of accrediting agencies.

Individuals have to take a certain number of hours but I’m not even sure they have to pass all of their classes to receive the grant. But there’s no guarantee that they will be admitted to selective schools and if the money you get from the government isn’t enough to pay for some schools, too bad.

Of course, the higher education system could probably use some more accountability but it is an example of government financing private schools with minimal oversight.

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  1. One of the great mysteries of the U.S. is how we could develop two successful education systems, one public and very local and the other significantly private and more diverse.

    The Supreme Court generally rules that the age of the student has something to do with it. College kids tend to be over 18. They can look out for themselves. Younger children can’t.

    Colleges and universities go through extensive accrediting processes, however. Perhaps we should go to a system like that for elementary-through-high-school. But until we get such an accrediting process in place, we’re rather stuck with what we have. We have the best public education system in the world, with the best higher education as a follow-on.

    What was the problem we were trying to solve, again?

    Comment by Ed Darrell — November 18, 2007 @ 4:57 am

  2. […] from Texas has a couple of posts that provide some insights to the issues. In the first one, “We Have Vouchers for Higher Education,” the question is raised about why not let […]

    Pingback by Why not treat kindergarteners like college students? « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub — November 18, 2007 @ 5:40 am

  3. I understand we have two different systems and the problems associated with each. What I’m trying to get at is that the government is willing to let an individual spend it’s money at a school that may be accredited but has a pathetic graduation rate. Students are allowed to pick their schools based on winning football teams or party school rankings. It seems to me oversight at the college level is the government verifying that all of the appropriate resources are in place for student use. Whether or not students use them and to what affect seems secondary.

    This also means that those who support school choice or vouchers for school improvement will probably be in for a rude awakening when they find parents supporting “failing” schools because it’s more important to them that their kids play on a local football team than pass state science tests.

    Comment by texased — December 27, 2007 @ 11:53 am

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