Mr. Jack Hickey
243 Ferndale Way
Redwood City, California 94062
As you know, I have advocated unrestricted school vouchers for more than a quarter of a century. In that period, I have encountered many variants of my own basic proposals. Of those, only two have impressed me as both desirable and potentially realistic alternatives to a simple unrestricted voucher: your proposal for direct grants to parents on the basis of demonstrated performance on examinations, regardless of how the competence demonstrated was acquired; and a tax credit limited in amount available to anyone for expenditures on schooling youngsters between specified ages.
I like the feature of your approach which would sharply limit the administrative role of government in the educational industry. The one aspect that bothers me is the need to rely for tests of performance on examinations--both because of the tendency to bias the learning process toward coping with the specific exams at the expense of a deeper and fuller education and because of the need to rely on the makers of exams to specify the appropriate content of education. Unfortunately, so long as the taxpayer is going to finance education, there is no alternative to some delegation of these tasks to professional educators.
The ultimately correct solution, for which I would hope any voucher scheme--mine or yours--would pave the way, would be the reduction of the state role simply to providing financial assistance to the small minority of children whose parents (even when relieved of present taxes to finance schooling) could not themselves finance their children's schooling.
Any one of the three approaches (an unrestricted voucher, your approach, or an appropriately designed tax credit) would be vastly superior to our present system.
Senior Research Fellow