Mike Kueber's Blog

September 17, 2012

Northside School District is concerned about school vouchers

Filed under: Education — Mike Kueber @ 4:12 pm
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Today’s edition of the San Antonio Express-News contains an op-ed piece from Brian Woods that attempts to explain why school vouchers are a bad idea.  Woods is the new superintendent of Northside Independent School District, San Antonio’s largest school district with enrollment approaching 100,000 kids, and, surprise, he is concerned that the Texas legislature is considering vouchers.  What are his concerns (other than the elimination of his monopoly)?  He claims the following:

  1. Public schools must enroll every child, including those unmotivated or with learning disabilities, while private schools can cherry-pick motivated, able children.  Because of the playing field isn’t level, Woods believes it is unfair to compare public schools to private schools.  [No one is arguing that public schools should have results comparable to private schools.  That would be like comparing the effectiveness of UTSA to Trinity University.  They are working with different kids and their results will be different.]
  2. Public schools are held accountable for the use of public funds, and part of that accountability includes testing standards.  These same standards should apply to private schools.  [One could argue that formal accountability standards aren’t as necessary with private schools because parents will be able to pull their children out of a non-performing school.  But I expect that Texas would impose testing standards on private schools that receive state funds.]
  3. Private schools may charge more than provided by a voucher, and this would preclude poor kids from attending that school.  In that situation, the voucher is doing nothing more than subsidizing the parents of a rich child going to an exclusive private school.  [This concern, which Wood labels as his greatest, has nothing to do with educational policy.  Rather, it is designed to stoke rich v. poor divisiveness into the voucher debate.  From a political perspective, Woods’s concern can be dispatched easily by requiring private schools that accept vouchers to accept the vouchers as payment in full.]
  4. Vouchers will violate the greatest liberal shibboleth – diversity.  According to Woods, public schools currently are diverse because most children have no other option.  If motivated kids whose parents are dissatisfied with their public school are enabled to go to a private school, the diversity of the public schools will be weakened.  [This concern is just a variation of the discredited argument in favor of forced busing to create diversity.]

   Woods concludes his argument with the following rhetorical question – “Do we really want to promote a system of education where those who can afford it leave the public schools and those who cannot stay?”  Does he not realize that he is describing the American system of education as it already is?  Vouchers would merely extend the right to leave to millions of kids who can’t currently afford it.



  1. The Department of Education AND public schools should be closed. The system is so broken that it is completely beyond repair. I would also close most education departments in most colleges and universities. Let teachers learn their field first and get a degree/major in some field of expertise. Then, let them get a minor or a certificate in teaching. Let the teacher unions fade away into oblivion. Let the market work and there will be schools and schooling–at a level where children might actually learn to think and begin to like learning.

    Comment by Bob Bevard — September 17, 2012 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  2. Great points. I also am concerned that Northside ISD is so concerned that there may be a mass exodus of students were parents have a right to choose their kids’ school Do they not have any more confidence in the product they are delivering? If this is the case, we Do need to give parents the right to choose the educational environment where their children have the greatest opportunity to learn. Schools should not be assigned by the government based on zip codes, but by parents who know their kids best.

    Comment by texastaxpayeradvocate — September 17, 2012 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

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