Voucher Systems of Public Education After Nyquist and Sloan: Can A Constitutional System Be Devised?

Criticism of the present system of American elementary and secondary education has rekindled interest in the idea, first proposed by Adam Smith, of providing parents with vouchers to purchase their children’s education. The basic elements of a voucher plan are simple. Parents are given vouchers worth roughly the per pupil cost of education in their city. These vouchers can be used to purchase education at any public or private school that meets the accreditation requirements imposed by the state. Such a system would increase the ability of parents and children to choose among various options in the education market, a result that may, in turn, lead to greater responsiveness by schools to the demands of education consumers, to greater satisfaction on the part of a community with its educational system, and to the increased tailoring of specific educational programs to individual needs.