In 1955, Milton Friedman introduced the concept of vouchers as a method for introducing competition into public education and sparked the longest running education debate in American history. Proponents say that vouchers will make education more efficient and more fair. Opponents says that school vouchers will destroy public education and increase inequality.
When I was defending my dissertation on the politics of school vouchers back in 2000, five normally dignified professors got into a raging debate about the evils of school vouchers around our conference table. My research focused solely on the politics and not outcomes, so I was a little surprised at their strength of their opinions, but I shouldn’t have been. School vouchers will lead to a Yellowstone-style bar fight faster than any other nerd topic.
Reality may have made the debate irrelevant. As I’ve seen first hand, government is gradually giving up directly providing services in the disability arena, and in a more subtle way in education. States aren’t passing any law with the word “voucher” screaming in newspaper headlines, yet they are slowly decentralizing responsibilities to families and third-party vendors, especially in the disability world. Government workers process our paperwork, but won’t actually administer programs or actually have any contact with the people who need help.