Polemics & Exchanges

On Vouching

Since Laurence M. Vance used his review (“Why Johnny Shouldn’t Vouch,” July) of two new books on parental choice in education to repeat his stale objections to school vouchers, I wish to correct his mistakes and bring readers up to date on the voucher debate.

Vance conveys three reservations he has about vouchers, which will be familiar to anyone who read the Freeman during the 1970’s and 80’s: Vouchers still rely on taxes to pay for schooling; they may lead to more government regulation of private schools; and they may encourage greater dependence on government.  These are legitimate concerns but not compelling reasons for libertarians or paleoconservatives to oppose vouchers.

Ending public funding of schools may be the proper objective, but it is a losing proposition politically.  The government-school establishment, financed by half-a-trillion dollars in taxes each year, diverts billions of dollars annually into defending its exclusive franchise.  Real per-pupil spending by government schools is rising year after year, hardly a sign of waning power.  Right or wrong, a large majority of the American public believes schools should be subsidized by taxpayers.

Vouchers are a promising tactic because they do not challenge this public consensus directly, focusing instead on whether...

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