Attack on Public Education: The Growing Support of Education Savings Accounts

While the 30-plus-year-old school voucher system is being expanded to a new frontier via education savings accounts, supporters of public education are outraged. Each public school kid under the age of 18 is granted money through these accounts, which are then given directly to parents for private, religious, internet, and homeschooling expenses.

Growing support for this proposal has been strongly influenced by the Supreme Court ruling from the previous summer permitting people to use taxpayer-funded tuition help for religious schools as well as attacks on public school curricula by right-leaning politicians. This is seen in Iowa, where residents recently conducted a hearing and proponents argued that residents’ desire for educational options outside of the public institutions was motivated by differences in values rather than educational quality.

However, this amounts to nothing more than an assault on the principle of public education as a whole, and it is motivated more by cultural conflicts than by educational requirements. Even though traditional public schools may be offering excellent education and services, when students leave them because they don’t fit with their values, there is a significant risk that those who remain will suffer from fewer resources and funding because fewer students are paying into the system.

Furthermore, because not all families can afford such alternatives to public education, these education savings accounts do not offer equal options for everyone. Those who can opt-out will profit from money that could have been used to improve our already underperforming public schools while those who cannot afford them will be saddled with fewer resources. However, there is no assurance that these private schools or homeschooling organizations would give a superior education to that provided by our public systems, particularly when it comes to standardized test scores, college acceptance rates, or any other genuine accountability measures.

It’s important for everyone to keep in mind the main reason we support publicly financed education: it ensures that all children, regardless of socioeconomic class or background, have access to equal opportunities for success in life. This long-standing custom shouldn’t be sacrificed in order for some leaders to further their own political and cultural agendas at the expense of others.