The school voucher program in Milwaukee is the oldest such program in the country and one of the largest. It also seems to have developed quite a few bugs in the system. Among other problems, administrators allowed a school to be run by a convicted rapist and several others to be paid for students who didn’t show up. And these are just the most recent reports of abuse of this program. This statement pretty much summarizes the problem:
The schools are required to report virtually nothing about their methods to the state, or to track their students’ performance. Proponents say that frees the schools from onerous bureaucracy. But some say the lack of oversight makes them a prime target for abuse.
However, the financial abuse of this program has nothing to do with whether the voucher concept is a valid alternative to public education. Anytime you open the government vault and start passing out funds with few controls, there will be some people who will take the money and spend it on something other than the intended purpose (maybe a nice Mercedes for the principal?).
It’s the part about the private schools not having to "track their students’ performance" or that they are "not required to submit any information about the school’s philosophy or curriculum before receiving upwards of $1 million in voucher funding" that really bothers me. Why is it that public schools are required to test students at every micro-step of their academic careers but we are expected to take it on faith that the private schools receiving this voucher money will provide a better education?