Radical Education Legislation: A Heated Debate

Radical Education Legislation: A Heated Debate

Education reform is taking a front seat in Indiana with Gov. Mitch Daniels. Similar to the Q comp program in Minnesota, Daniels has proposed "linking teacher pay to student performance," with the added benefit of awarding students a scholarship if they finish high school a year early. The controversial aspect to the reform, however, is Daniel's proposal to open state funds to help parents defray the cost of sending their children to private school. This would be the ultimate "true school choice plan" and one that has been opposed by public educators for years.

For underprivileged students, vouchers give the "kind of options only rich ones currently have." While the state vouchers won't cover the entire cost of private education, they can be a great help to parents trying to afford it. As well as providing opportunity to students that might not have had much of it before, state vouchers will also "create competition" that will benefit public schools and students. And here's the added edge: schools that stand to lose students unless they improve will likely improve with the added competition.

However, there are critics of the voucher program. Some contend that this program will "end up siphoning off the best students", leaving the struggling ones far behind. Also, parents who are the most committed will leave the school and other students that benefited from the vouchers behind. This argument does bear weight and will probably be a huge factor in the success of passing this legislation.

Some believe that the state voucher program will overstep the contentious boundary between church and state. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld the constitutionality of this proposed mandate. If the state equally acknowledges all private schools, with or without religious affiliation, the proposed vouchers will only be "accommodating religion, not advancing a specific one."


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If this system was ever officially instituted, it would have to be carefully monitored. The design of the plan, the limits and the cost will all factor into whether or not the legislation will pass. The debate between critics and proponents will be well-researched and hard-fought. Yet, if public education is ever going to improve in light of recent findings that placed American students only in the middle of the education race, then more radical legislation like this might be necessary, if carefully monitored.

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