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Government School Vouchers

A government school voucher is a certificate issued to parents by the government to cater for part of their kid’s tuition in a private schooling system. It’s also referred to as an education voucher. The education vouchers were introduced to offset tuition cost incurred by parents who take their kids to private schools. Educational vouchers were an idea that first got proposed by Milton Friedman back in the 1950s. The original reasoning of idea was to facilitate the level of education that was in elementary and secondary levels (Benfield, 2001). At the time the idea was quickly discarded but in recent years the voucher system has brought about a lot of debate. The reasoning that led to the formulation of the idea was based on the notion that introduction of the vouchers would be more freedom for choice of education and competition among both private and public schools.

In non- voucher school systems parents who presently pay for private schooling, still pay tax to cater for public schools, thus; they fund both private and public schools simultaneously. Under education voucher system, these parents in private schooling system are issued with school vouchers to partly offset the expense of private school tuition . The same is achieved when the Government Issue an education tax credits to citizens who take their kids to private school (Chakrabarti, 2003). The relevance of offsetting the tuition fees cost was to allow parents and students to choose the schooling system that best meets their education needs.

The school voucher system has faced major controversy, whether giving the families the freedom of choice for public and private school threatens the government’s reduction in the allocation of funds to the public system and reallocating those funds to private schools, thus undermines the public school education system (Howard and Kaleem, 2007). The opponents of the voucher system claim that it tends to lure student from public school to private school leading to devastating effects on public school education. The advocates for this system claim that the vouchers give families a wider choice on education matters and approaches, and puts direct competition between the private and public school. This will arguably put pressure on public schools to provide better and quality education. This study will address the effect government school vouchers will have in public school system.

According to research studies carried out by Greg Forster’s (2011) to look at whether the voucher program had a positive or negative or non noticeable impact on the surrounding public schools across the United States of America indicated extensive benefits from the introduction of the voucher system. Forster examined 19 studies of the government school vouchers by collecting all the available empirical study date using the best scientific methods available. For every study, he assessed whether the voucher programs had a positive, negative, or non noticeable effect to the public school. He also looked at the effect the vulture system had on the students. Out of the 19 studies, 18 of the studies indicated improvement in education level, in public school systems, while only one showed no impact. The result showed a win-win solution for either families in public and private school (George, 2011). Forster concluded that, from the empirical evidence on school vouchers, the vultures had a positive effect on public school.

However,   a research carried out by Joseph G. Altonji, Christopher R. Taber, and Ching-I Huang showed the cream-skimming effect of private school vouchers on public school systems. The aim was to examine if the school voucher system would lure best students from public schools away, generating negative repercussions to public schools. This was examined using data from NELS: 88 data estimates (Altonji, 2010). Data on both private and public school entrance was combined and evaluated. Results showed a cream-skimming effect of students from public to private schools. The movement of bright student from public school to private school had negative consequences on public school system learning and funding from the government.

From this research, researches conducted and many others, the effects of these subsidies offered by the government to families in private schooling develop mixed feeling and reactions. Study on the school voucher issue will help us to understand and plan on both the short and long run effects of the voucher system for the public school education. In this study two variables will be used. The dependent variable will be the direct effect of the government voucher system on public school in terms of improvement in the level of education and decline in government funding in public schools. The independent variable will be the indirect effects of the voucher program which will have to be expanded upon. The following study will determine the answer to the question on how government school vouchers affect public school system. Both positive and negative impacts will be examined.

Sampling frame

The target population for this study will be parents with students in public school. This will serve as our sampling frame. We will not consider parents with kids in private schools, since the subject aim of this study was to find the impact of the government school vouchers particularly in public school.   The families selected for this study will be 100 families who volunteer from the surrounding community. Parents with children both in private and public schools or whose children are through with their education will be excluded.  The 100 families selected for this study will serve as an excellent sample size representative of the whole community. Strictly selecting only the families in public schooling system will help ensure that the results are pure and are not mixed up with participant’s interest and preferences, making the findings more genuine and reliable.

This will be a descriptive research study that will be trying to find out if the voucher introduction will have an impact in the public schools. The method of sampling that will be used will be multi-stage. In this different regions will be divided into geographically to create clusters and from these proportional sampling will be used in that the cluster with the highest population of students who will get a higher sampling number in comparison to the minimum one.

The study will recruit required participants from house to house basis, from list of parents in public schools and from self help groups. Once these families are contacted, the study will require them to give their personal details that will be used to compile the final list of parents who meet the required criteria for the study, those with children in public school. After compiling the list, the required participants will be contacted by phone and kindly requested if the will volunteer for the study.  The families will be contacted by phone randomly from the compiled list and kindly requested if they will volunteer for the study. This will be done repeatedly until 100 families agree to be the subject of the study.

Ethnical consideration

The study will address ethnic issues accordingly. All the participants will be selected voluntarily. They will be informed in depth what the study is all about and will be required to give their full informed consent. To ensure the participants volunteer and give genuine opinions no remuneration will be offered to the participants in the study, everything will be conducted of a free volunteer basis.

The participants will be informed officially of the IRB approval of the study significantly to ensure them of the legality of the study.  As no participant deception is required for the study, so no debriefing on this ground is considered necessary, but a final debriefing will still be carried out to answer any supplementary questions that might crop up (Konold et al, 1981.  The study necessitates the use of private data that is collected to substantiate the results, so a notification on the discretion of the study will be provided.  Discretion limitations will be explained and elaborated to the volunteer participants and that no admittance will be constrained should it be sought under the course of the current laws and will be provided if a court ordered.  Moreover, participants will be informed of their right to withdraw from the study at any time.  Limitations to the study are also considered and noted as it is not a surrogate to conservative method and may need to be supplemented with alternative methods for the success of the study.

Moreover those being interviewed will have to be having children who go to public schools to ensure the relevance of the study is maintained by involving populations that are relevant to the study and hence will be affected by such an initiative.

 Measurement

The participant of this study will be interviewed and then issued with questionnaires to fill. The instruments that this study will require for measurements will include data from the survey conducted plus data from previous survey on the same project.  A pencil and a research paper form will be used to fill data during interviews. To validate the study Electronic gadgets will be used to record conversation during interviews. Computers will also be used to combine and format every data collected for analysis.

Measurement of the effects of the school voucher system will be done on longitudinal scale using two different interview tools plus the questionnaire. The first interview will be the phone interview which will be conducted on all participants. The aim of this interview will be to get brief opinions of the participants on the issue of the voucher system on public schools. This interview will help the person interviewing the participants to draft questions that will be used for the second interview and for questions to be asked on the questionnaires. The phone interview will provide the first sample of the study which will be useful to judge the consistency of the opinions from the participants. The phone interview will have direct questions. First they will be asked whether they endorse the voucher system or not and then give their reasons. The phone interview will be done once at the beginning of the three months study.

The second interview will be the personal interview. The aim of this interview will be to get an in-depth opinion on the voucher issue from the 100 participants (Patrick McEwan and Martin Carnoy, 1999). The interview will take about 30 minutes and the test score will be 1 for improvement in the level of education in public schools and 0 for no improvement and decrease in government funding. The scale will be 10 questions with the first 7 questions being used for the data scoring. This interview will be done twice during the three months the study will take.

The last measurement will be done using the questionnaire. The questionnaire will contain 20 well detailed questions. Only 15 questions will be used for the scoring and the test score will range from 0 to 5.To ensure that the right information is given, this section will require the participants to disclose the schools that their children attend as well as their current level of study. (Konold et al, 1981)

The main aim of the questionnaires will be identifying the respondents’ opinion regarding the research question; the quality of education offered in public schools and the results expected upon implementation of the voucher system by the government.  Furthermore the parents will give their preference between public and private on where they would prefer their children to school. The questionnaires will be given to all participants after the first interview and will be collected before the beginning of the second interview. Likert scaling will be used to measure the intensity in the different opinion on the effect of the school vouchers on public schools (Konold et al, 1981). Timing of the interviews will be done properly and all participants will be given a reminder call prior to the interview day. To ensure validity of the study, each questionnaire the details of the interviewees are noted down probably with their contacts. This can be done using the inclusion of a section within the questionnaire which will have demographic profile to collect information of the individual as evidence that the results which will be presented at the end of the research are valid. The assistants will also be well trained to ensure the information is collected and noted well in the interviews which will be carried out.

Data Collection

Data will be collected in two forms within the study period of three months, through interviews and the questionnaire. After participants are selected and the list is compiled with 100 participants, they will be mailed a letter describing in depth what the study is all about, they will also be informed of the ethical issues and what is expected of them by the study.

The first data will be collected at the beginning of the first month through the phone interview. All the 100 participants will be contacted via phone and asked briefly on the subject issue (do they endorse the voucher program or not, giving their main reasons). The interviewer will be able to collect brief opinions from each participant and this will provide the first sample for the study.

The second data will be collected through the personal interview that will be done twice. The first personal interview will be done immediately two weeks after the phone interview. The participants will be called two days prior to the interview to confirm their availability on the day of the interview and the specific time (Molnar, 2001). From here the persons conducting the research will visit all participants at their home and conduct a personal interview that will take not more than 40 minutes (the interviewer will be required to fill the data collected in a research paper and record the full interview for validity). After the first interview is completed the interviewer will issue every participant with the questionnaire which the participant will be required to fill within two months.

The second interview will be done in a similar manner immediately two months after the first interview, and the interviewer will be required to collect the questionnaire from each participant after the second interview. For the remaining one month data collected from the two questionnaires will be given a score based on each participants answer to the questions. The interview samples will be given score 1 for those who endorse the program and 0 for those against the voucher program (Konold et al, 1981). For the questionnaire only 15 will be used for the scoring ranging from 0 to 5 since the rest of the questions will not provide vital information required by the study. From here the data will be ready for analysis.

Data Analysis

Data analysis will determine the effects of the school vouchers on the public schools. The testing methods will be able to show the both the positive and negative impacts the voucher program has brought to the public schools. The phone interview sample will be analyzed in percentage. The total test score from all participants then the total will be divided by the number of participants and then it will be expressed in percentage.

The samples from the second interview and the questionnaire will be analyzed by first obtaining the mean of the sample. The mean will be obtained by the arithmetic formula (∑x/x).A testing sample will be created from previous survey results on the voucher program. The sample will undergo a two tailed test of the data using the testing sample. The sample t-test will also make use of a confidence interval set at 97% to determine significance of data, and a Pearson correlation coefficient will be calculated to test for significance if the study was applied to the participant (Konold et al, 1981).   

The results will be evaluated to see if an alternative hypothesis exists, and the new sample means will be compared to the means from previous researches on the subject. Participant’s raw score from the interviews and the questionnaire will be graphed in two graphs and compared from previous raw score on research results on the subject of government vouchers. From this all inferences on the effects of government school vouchers on the topic will be made.

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