Monthly Archive for August, 2009

IPA Pussy Footing on School Vouchers

The Instuture of Public Affairs has just brought out a paper heroically entitled “A Real Education Revolution: Options for voucher funding reform“. However, I am not sure that they are serious.

They appear to be put off by the cost of a universal scheme that would cost more than present funding if it were to be sufficient to ensure more or less free education and provide those currently funding their kids with the same entitlement.

There is no discussion of the whole issue of how you would create alternatives to choose from. This would involve more private schools and/or greater autonomy for government schools.

Instead they are focusing on groups with special needs – aborigines, the disabled and the poor. Indigenous students would be able to get out of isolated and toxic communities. The voucher would cover board as well as any school fees. With the disabled it would allow private schools to compete better with the public ones.

I am not sure how a voucher for poor students would work. You would need to determine eligibility to start with. As far as I can see the benefits from the scheme would have to come from a marginal shift in students forcing schools to smarten up their act. I don’t know how realistic that is.

There is some discussion of the paper at a number of libertarian blogs. These include , Catallaxy, Andrew Norton and the paper’s author, Julie Novak.