Over the past couple of weeks, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s proposed remedy for America’s faltering public education system has begun to receive more attention in the mainstream media.
Like almost every other one of his major campaign proposals, Romney’s voucher-based education plan is predicated upon a free-market approach to improve the quality of public schools. Under the plan, students attending chronically failing schools would have access to a $25 billion federal fund to attend any public, private, charter or online school of their choosing.
Schools, particularly those with lesser track records, would therefore be incentivized to take the necessary measures to improve their performance to better compete with other higher performing schools for students.
Voucher-based programs have been met with an increasing amount of opposition from public education advocates in states around the country. First and foremost, educators say that there is no empirical evidence supporting the belief that a voucher system — like the one that Romney has proposed — actually has a tangible impact on the performance of a school district.
Moreover, opponents view voucher plans as a major detriment to inner-city public school systems. Under these types of plans, students are free to attend higher performing public schools outside of their district. In other words, rather than investing in an underperforming local school district, the government is providing families with the ways and means to send children to another school district outside of their neighborhood.