Two experts debate whether public funds should be used to support private school vouchers

Michael J. Petrilli, Richard D. Kahlenberg, and Kyle Spencer:

Rick doesn’t believe that kids should be forced to attend the school their district assigns to them, usually the one closest to their house, or that private schools should be illegal. I don’t believe that tax dollars should flow to schools without any accountability for results. We both believe in school choice—in allowing kids to choose publicly funded schools beyond their neighborhood public school. The question is how wide those choices should be, especially for families too poor to pay private school tuition, and what the conditions on the schools should be.

Rick supports public school choice, in part as a way to allow poor kids to attend more affluent public schools, and thus further the cause of integration. Same with charter schools. He’s also OK with magnet schools, even though they are selective, and thus don’t take all students. But he draws the line at private schools. Why? It can’t be because of accountability; states like Indiana and Louisiana have demonstrated that it’s possible to have voucher programs that are held accountable for student achievement. If private schools in those states don’t make enough progress with voucher participants, they get kicked out of the program.