CPU Debate: CUCR vs CU Dems on School VouchersCome out and watch your favorite political activists on campus slug it out in a live debate! Located in the beautiful and scenic Hamilton Hall, room 503.
The topic of this week’s debate is Resolved: The federal government should increase funding for school vouchers. That’s right, the College Republicans and CU Democrats are going to go head to head on one of the most contentious issues in education. You don’t want to miss this… but if you did miss it you can follow the arguments below from our official debate live blog!
Tonight’s debaters are Eyvana Bengochea ’16 and Mitch Morton ’16 from CUCR and David Kang ’15 and Marilyn Robb ’13 from the CU Democrats.
8:15 Both sides have their opening statements. Immediately the arguments are loud and heated. Eyvana Bengochea speaks first for CUCR and passionately argues that vouchers can help students achieve where they otherwise would be unable to because of the poor schools in their area. David Kang from the Dems disagrees, and both sides site statistics supporting their views.
8:35 We will provide a list of questions asked by CPU moderator Mingming Feng after the debate. Despite the questions, the debaters seem more interested responding to each other and voices quickly become raised. The arguments from both sides can be summarized as follows:
CUCR: Vouchers have been proven to work, while public schools are failing. Public schools are bogged by teaching unions, slouching standards, and a lack of competitiveness. Private schools offer an alternative for talented students so they can reach an environment where they can achieve. If public schools fail because of a diversion of funding to vouchers then so be it. The result will only be that failing public schools will have to close, while others will become more competitive to match private schools and all students will get better educations.
Dems: Vouchers have been proven to be ineffective at best, and harmful to student performance on standardized exams at worst. There’s no quality control among private schools and they have no obligation to publish their overall results for exams or college preparation, unlike public schools. Because of the selectivity of many of the higher end private schools, the majority of those who use vouchers to attend these schools would have attended anyway. Those who aren’t able to attend these top schools are essentially putting their education on a crap shoot, while denying important funding that public schools need.
8:40 Question 1 from audience to Dems: If there’s no way to tell if private schools are better or worse than private schools, why is it that President Obama sends his children to a fancy private school rather than a DC public school? Marilyn Robb from the Dems refuses to answer for Pres. Obama, saying that his choices aren’t the purpose of the debate. When pressed she does admit there is a reason that affluent people send their children to particular private schools, and we can only hope that some public schools can be improved to meet these standards.
8:42 Question to CUCR: Since there is a cost of searching for schools to use vouchers, how can we expect low income families to effectively make these decisions? Eyvana says that poor parents aren’t stupid or lazy, and the question essentially assumes that. David chimes in by citing the “market for lemons” problem to argue that it is an issue of information asymmetry.
8:48 A flurry of interesting questions come in: What’s the future of education? What about the problem of the summer learning gap? What about online learning? The debaters answer these questions, but regardless the discussion tends to each side’s particular talking points.
9:00 After a short break both sides give their closing statements. Seems like once again CUCR and the CU Dems will have to agree to disagree. But, both sides can get behind the notion that our educational system needs improvement, so at least there’s solidarity in spirit. That’s another debate in the books, and it was as passonate as ever. Here’s to the next one!
To see the debate in action, check out this video taken by Swara Salih from the Dems:
List of Questions as prepared by the moderator, Mingming Feng:
Question 1 (for CUCR):Do school vouchers weaken the federal government’s commitment to public schools by diverting funds that would otherwise be used to improve public schools?
Question 2: (for Dems): Even though a fully-implemented school voucher policy will never have enough spots to go around, isn’t it worth it to give even a few students the chance to get out of the failing public school system? Why let purist ideology stand in the way of a few more college degrees?
Question 3 (CUCR): Does the voucher program compromise fundamental distinctions between church and state, and would charter schools be a reasonable solution?
Question 4: (Dems): Would voucher programs be a better deal for taxpayers? Except for low-income families, vouchers only provide a partial tuition subsidy, and therefore, the cost to taxpayers is arguably lower than the cost of maintaining and improving public schools.