Since the 1950's, there has been a tremendous political movement to increase the use of private school vouchers - that is, sending students to private school on the public dime. The current reasoning is another of those common-sense-isms that seems rational on its face.
But all you have to do is dig a little deeper.
First of all, there is an inherent conflict of interest. The same people (state legislators) who are able to politically enact vouchers programs to "allow even poor people to escape the worst public schools" (their words) are the same people who politically affect policy for the state's worst public schools.
Meaning a politician who wants a voucher program can create the need for a voucher program by passively neglecting or actively kneecapping public education through his or her legislative perogatives.
This behavior is demonstrated very well, as Jay Bookman indicates, when political supporters of voucher programs refuse to require voucher recipients take standardized testing the state mandates for public school students.
I wonder what the explanation is for that?
Let me get this straight: a legislator will force education budgets to spend millions on standardized high-stakes testing infrastructure, to quantitatively evaluate the value of a public education and to "install accountability." This makes public schools cut extracurricular programs in favor of teaching the test, degrading the overall value of a public education. Then, in response to that degredation, that same legislator will say that students need to escape the mess that's been made, and offer to send them to private schools with public money. Finally, once the kid is in private school, the legislator does not want that student tested against one of the only metrics available to quantitatively evaluate the value difference between private and public education.
Where's your accountability now?
That's why I vote against every single politician who proposes a voucher program - it is, literally, a public and policy-based admission that the candidate is incapable or unwilling to do the job they were elected to do. Not only that, but such politicians are usually openly hostile to doing that job.
Now, I wouldn't vote for them if they just came out and admitted that they despised the idea of public schools and would rather that not be the government's responsibility. I think that position is terrible and has been demonstrably proven false. But I would at least respect the honesty. That's an improvement to the way they're going about things now.