A Defense of Educational Vouchers in the United States
In this work I examine the debate surrounding policy initiatives to provide public subsidy for private (and often religious) primary and secondary schools in the United States. I first examine the theoretical justifications for public schooling in the United States. I then argue that, within this theoretical framework, publicly supported private schooling is justifiable. To develop this argument I respond to objections to private vouchers that claim that public schools are fully competent to meet the responsibilities they must assume in order for publicly supported education to be theoretically defensible. I then respond to objections to voucher initiatives that claim that any widespread adoption of private schooling would undermine in schoolchildren their perceptions of the value of civic unity, and would erode their skills of compromise and toleration of difference so essential to a democratic state. I do so by referencing recent voucher proposals in New Zealand. I argue that New Zealand’s experience with private vouchers evidences the compatibility of private—and frequently religious—schooling and the development of an appropriate catalogue of civic virtues.
Keywords: Education, Vouchers, Civic Virtue, New Zealand, United States, Public Schools, Private Schools
Dr. Joseph Prud'homme
Assistant Professor of Government, Political Science, Christopher Newport University
Juan Pablo Camacho
Student, Government, Christopher Newport University