Vouchers: Looking into the non-satire crystal ball
These are my predictions for the future regarding the results of the educational voucher movement in America. They are not in any particular order.
- Vouchers will be approved within 5 years throughout most states in America.
- Within 15 years, most voucher supporters will be disappointed in what vouchers have brought to the private schools. This will primarily be because big government, which most true conservatives don't trust, will now have strings attached to the money. Big government never gives money away without asking for something in return. Public schools have dealt with this for years. Faith-based charities will be going through the same angst as they begin to regret ever accepting government money.
- Within 15 years, "balkanization" of America will begin occurring and lawsuits charging discrimination and segregation will once again be working their way through the legal system. Most of these lawsuits will occur in the suburbs of urban markets where a larger number of private schools exist.
- Salaries for private school educators will have risen due to the market/demand for more teachers. This growing demand for private school teachers will further erode the private school mission. This is because it will be difficult to find large numbers of teachers that are willing to work for lower salaries just because they view it as "mission work." This in turn, will slowly change the culture of their organizations and "union" issues will begin to surface in their organizations.
- Salaries for public school educators will grow stagnant as public school districts struggle to keep pace with rising health insurance, rising property and casualty insurance, rising utility costs and lack of funding support due to charter schools, tax vouchers and tax credits.
- Teacher shortages will develop as college students begin to choose professions that haven't been denigrated so badly.
- More and more alternative licensing for teachers will then become the vogue. This too will result in cultural changes in the profession as more and more teachers will come from more varied backgrounds.
- In areas of the country where there are many school choices, better students will move to private schools, leaving the public schools with higher percentages of students in poverty and students with special needs.
- Due to the odd mix of private, charter and public schools, most high stakes standardized testing will only be required on a sampling basis using NAEP type testing. This will be partly due to the costs for nationwide testing and partly due to objections from the private schools who will see it as an intrusion.
- NCLB will become hated by all schools, private, public and charter, and will eventually be gutted as the standardized testing craze begins to subside.
- NCLB will eventually be replaced with a national accreditation process that will include random assessment sampling of schools to track national progress.
- In areas of the country where there aren't as many private school choices, most school communities will remain much as they are, but with a heightened sense of desire to keep improving.
In 15 years, correlational research will show that education and income levels of parents are still strong predictors of student performance. And, while there are some stellar examples of increased public and private school performance, overall much remains the same. Simpson's paradox is still in play. All subgroups across America are improving, but because the population in the subgroups continues to grow, academic performance still appears flat. In other words, the achievement gap between subgroups continues to close, but the flat overall average continues to hide it from the public view. However, Gallup polls on education show a continuing trend upward in the parental satisfaction with schools. These trends follow most market research which seems to indicate higher customer satisfaction in a service or product when it was freely chosen.
In 15 years the overall consensus will be that educational vouchers didn't revolutionize education in America, but they didn't destroy it either.