Voucher programs do not provide academic or fiscal accountability

Voucher proponents conveniently gloss over a key characteristic of private education systems -- limited academic and fiscal accountability requirements. Because they do not receive federal dollars, private schools do not have to account for the academic performance of their students through standardized yearly assessments, as do public schools, nor must they set academic standards or have qualified school personnel. Further, private schools are not obligated to abide by any of the new standards established by the No Child Left Behind Act. These new standards were meticulously crafted in a bipartisan fashion with the goal of significantly improving our public education system. Vouchers threaten this goal by diverting federal funds to schools not bound by these same standards.
In addition, unlike public schools, private schools are subject to little or no fiscal oversight over the expenditure of public funds. Experience with other voucher programs illustrates the problems that can arise from lack of effective oversight and public accountability. In Cleveland, for example, one school in the voucher program operated for two years despite the fact that its 110 year-old building had no fire alarm or sprinkler system and had lead-based paint known to cause brain damage in children. Additionally, the school had to repay nearly $70,000 in tax dollars it had received for students not even enrolled there. In another school it was discovered that classroom instruction consisted of students sitting in front of a TV and watching recorded lessons based on the tenets of a Christian education. 6

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