"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, July 24, 2015

Vouchers and Providing Public Basic Education

In the state of Wisconsin, the debate on school vouchers continues. On one side of the debate is Julie Mead, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin. In an article published in Wisconsin's Kenosha News, the following three reasons are given against a school voucher system. The system has less accountability. Vouchers pull funding away from public schools. Vouchers do not lead to better learning outcomes.

Above copied from Kenosha News

The argument from the other side as exemplified by Michael Heise of Cornell Law School focuses on school choice and increased educational opportunities. There is, of course, a benefit whenever the private sector helps in providing public service. However, good intentions are no substitute for accountability. In particular, a study of a third-party governed public voucher system in the state of Wisconsin shows that market forces sometimes fail in delivering quality. Apparently, only after the voucher system was required to disclose publicly its performance that learning outcomes became comparable to those of public schools. The study specifically reports, "our results provide clear evidence that in the first year in which the performance of each private school would be reported to the public, test scores of students within each private school rose dramatically." Mead therefore has a point with regard to voucher systems requiring accountability and that market forces are not fully reliable.

Another important perspective from Mead is that vouchers seem to replace "a state's obligation to provide quality basic education with a privilege to shop for one". The issue of vouchers in basic education is in fact quite relevant to Philippine basic education. With the introduction of the senior high school years, the public school system clearly cannot provide the additional to years to all.

Above copied from SunStar

GMA News research recently raised concerns regarding the voucher program in the Philippines.

Above copied from GMA News
Above copied from GMA News

Developed countries like the United States continue to question voucher systems. In a country where the judicial system is very weak, and where checks and balances hardly exist, voucher systems are clearly more prone to corruption. The voucher system in the Philippines likewise differs significantly from those of the United States. Vouchers in the Philippines do not really serve as choices or increased educational opportunities, but as ramifications of the government's inability to provide resources for the education of all. Obviously, the government cannot deliver the basic education it is requiring for all. It then embraces a neoliberal policy that lacks transparency and accountability. DepEd's K to 12 has serious flaws in its curriculum but its implementation maybe far worse.

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