September 6, 2017

States are supposed to function as laboratories of ideas, and one landmark experiment is coming up in Arizona. The state government passed a bill allowing all Arizona students to apply for a school voucher program to attend the schools of their choice. However, opponents who claim it will suck too much money out of the public school system got up a petition to block it and put it up for a vote. So the voters will get to decide next year. (Note that this would still only affect a small percentage of students; it just expands the number who can apply. But it could be a first step toward expansion of vouchers. As Gorbachev learned, once you give the people a little freedom, they all start demanding more of it.)

It’s easy to assume that opposition to school vouchers is largely driven by teachers unions and their supporters who fear that Arizonans will flee the public school system in droves (they might want to spend as much time pondering why that is as they do circulating petitions to forcibly prevent it). But some home schoolers and private schools also oppose the measure because they fear the public money will come with lots of strings in the form of meddlesome regulations (which they are very wise to suspect and to want to avoid).

Read the details at the link and see where you would come down. The big question is, “Are the potential downsides of free choice in education really so heavy and unmanageable as to warrant the government not allowing citizens free choice in education?”


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