Since there's a debate tonight in Wellington on implementing education vouchers -- Roger Kerr, Heather Roy and Stephen Whittington arguing for vouchers, John Minto, Arthur Graves and Labour's Grant Robertson arguing against, details of the debate at Kiwiblog -- I figured it a good time to post educational historian Andrew Coulson's reasons for opposing education vouchers, with which I wholly agree -- though I doubt that Minto and Robertson would:
Q: In your view, what is the most promising proposal for reform in education policy?
The best realistic policy we've developed is a combination of personal use tax credits and scholarship donation tax credits. Basically, if you pay for the education of your own or someone else's children, we cut your taxes. Cato published model legislation along these lines last December and we'll soon be releasing a tool that estimates its fiscal impact. In all five states we've looked at so far, this proposal would generate substantial savings.
Q:Why are tax credits superior to vouchers?
The key benefit of tax credits is that they reduce compulsion. Under vouchers, everyone has to fund every kind of school; that produces battles over what kinds of schools should get vouchers--for instance over the voucher funding of conversative Islamic schools in the Netherlands. With tax credits, people are either spending their own money on their own children, or they are choosing the scholarship organization that gets their donation. No one has to pay for education they find objectionable. [Emphasis mine.]
Feel free to make Coulson's point tonight to both debatees. And read more about his views here: 'Toward Market Education: Are Vouchers or Tax Credits the Better Path?'