Scott Tibbs
Submitted to National Review, June 1st, 2003

Back to Short Writings.

Vouchers are not the answer to failing government schools

To the Editor:

While James Justin Wilson makes a compelling argument for school choice in his May 30 column, he falls into the same trap that conservatives would be wise to avoid. Vouchers are not the solution to problems with the government schools. What conservatives are proposing with vouchers is yet another government program that, while well-intentioned, presents significant peril to both religious freedom and quality education.

It is a long-established fact that with government money comes government strings. Once private schools start to take money from government in the form of a voucher, they open themselves up to government interference in their operations. Bible-based science or history textbooks, as well as classes on the Bible itself and daily chapel services, could be in jeopardy if government starts demanding they be removed as a condition for receiving federal money.

The reason private schools shine so much brighter than government schools is freedom from intrusive government regulations. If government puts its fingers into private schools, the quality of education could suffer. We have seen what government has done with the schools it controls: why would we allow the government to meddle in a successful private-sector program?

The ironic thing about conservative support for vouchers is that they are supporting a government program to deal with the problems created by another government program. It is especially ironic that after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, they praised the virtues of devolving federal power to the states. Any voucher system that originates from the federal government betrays that principle. This does not even include the fact that the federal government has no constitutional authority to dictate educational policy for a nation of 280 million people from one city on the East Coast.

Ronald Reagan explained to us that government is the problem, not the solution. I hope voucher supporters take his advice.

Scott Tibbs

1992 Alumnus,
Grace Baptist Academy in Angola, IN