The article states all the schools need to be state approved to receive any vouchers. So no matter how much the Reuters reporter dislikes those schools, they are "approved". Given the school is acceptable to the state and qualifies for state moneys, then GMT said it right: LET THE PARENT CHOOSE. The parent knows the child and situation best and can best assess the various options.
Not always. Hence, charter schools are, in my opinion, an early predictor of what will happen with the voucher system. Here, in my state, charter schools were created with the goal of allowing schools to innovate. But it also failed to provide any reliable way for parents to compare choices or check academic progress at those schools. Many schools rushed to open, now operate "approved" with fewer state requirements than district schools, and are producing test scores worse than the schools that originally educated the children who migrated. The parents aren't informed because the state makes the test data very hard to find.
For instance, in the case of my daughter's former charter, the test scores fell from about 80% proficient to 16% proficient in the first two years of operation. That year the state only required that schools achieve 10% proficient to be considered having met annual progress. So the school took out a full page ad touting that it was the only charter to make the state's list, neglected to show that 84% of the students failed to pass the state exam, nor did it bother to compare the current scores to the previous ones (administration and teachers changed.) We noted you have to have internet access to find the scores, and then they are buried on the state website so you have to go through multiple pages just to find the link to them. And once there, the data is presented in a way that makes "comprehension" difficult.
So fast forward more than a decade later, the school is still approved despite dwindling performance, and the principal awarded herself with a luxury car. My favorite story - giving a test to students in the fall, and the same standardized test in the spring, and the scores fell by one grade level.
I don't have a problem giving vouchers to schools that consistently exceed expectations at a high level, but with so many private and parochial schools struggling, and many unprepared or unwilling to take on some of the socio-economic issues that come with the kids - I suspect it will look like my state in a few years. A lot of charter schools draining a lot of public funds with worse performance and no accountability. The most successful charter in the area took a different tactic. It took all that applied as required by state law, then after the state paid based on attendance, began selectively weeding out the students they didn't want by pressuring the parents or selectively enforcing discipline. Kids who were polite but behind, were pushed out as well to keep the test scores from going lower. The parents were humiliated but the school calls it "voluntary withdrawal" Those kids land back in district schools. The school graduates only portion of the original incoming class (at one point it was one third), but claim 100% graduation rate using only the count of the bodies still around at Senior year. We've suggested the school be evaluated based on student retention.
People will find to play games with those vouchers and they will cherry pick the kids they want and kick the others to the curb. Parents - unfortunately - are not always the same dogged advocates as those on the CC boards. Many desparately want a better opportunity for their children but lack the resources to properly vett their choices. And hence, they enroll their children in exchange for what turns out to be a pile of worthless magic beans.