PowerBlog: Vouchers, the Progressive Policy that the Right Loves

Today at the Acton PowerBlog, I ask the question, “why isn’t there more skepticism on the right [for school vouchers] and support on the left?”


Vouchers do increase competition, but they also increase the potential for government influence. When tuition money comes from the state, the state can attach strings. Those who hope this could be a boon for private schools may find that if, purely hypothetically, vouchers became universal, down the line the very thing that helped these schools and families in the short term is used as a channel to manipulate them and undermine their sovereignty.

It’s not as if we haven’t recently seen religious organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor have to fight all the way up to the US Supreme Court3 just to prove that they should qualify for a religious exemption to the Affordable Care Act. Do we want religious schools across the country to have to fight the same battles, with equal uncertainty of success?

Add to this the fact that for Betsy DeVos (again, only hypothetically at this point — she hasn’t proposed anything yet) to mandate vouchers from her post as Secretary of Education would be a hugely top-down move, violating state’s rights in determining education policy.

So why aren’t more people on the right skeptical?

But that’s not all. There’s another angle to this as well: Vouchers work by redistributing resources from the upper classes (primarily through income and property taxes) to the lower classes. They are explicitly aimed at fighting economic inequality, not only by providing funding but through the goal of better educational outcomes, which in turn correlate with higher incomes. It reduces the privilege of the privileged. Sounds pretty progressive to me.

So why don’t more people on the left support them?

Read the whole post here.