School vouchers and the privileges of choice

by Tore Bernt Sorensen

The objective of this Discussion Paper is to spark reflection and discussion amongst education unionists and activists by problematising school vouchers as a viable policy instrument. In doing this, the entry point is that the core argument for school vouchers needs to be revisited in order to expose its serious shortcomings, and the essentially ideological nature of its premise-conclusion structure. Moreover, the Paper shows that no easy answers or universal ‘solutions’ exist in the vouchers debate. Rather, the debate and policies on vouchers calls for context-specific (re)actions from teacher unions, considering their very different educational, political and socio-economic contexts. In this respect, the Paper argues that embedding the vouchers debate in the often dominant ‘raising standards’ debate is by no means sufficient and in fact might be misleading, because it
serves to deflect and derail the debate from the more fundamental debate on the public/private mix in educational provision, democratic accountability and social justice.


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