becarefulwhatyouwishforThere’s a curse that goes, “Be careful what you wish for…you may get it.”  The problem is we set expectations for ourselves and for situations, and then are surprised by the unintended consequences which may result from getting what we want.

We’ve all had these types of experiences.  You may lease a new car rather than buying one with several thousand miles on it because you wish you could afford a new one.  When the folks at the retailer make it possible, an issue keeps recurring every 5,000 miles or so.  Even though it’s always been corrected under warranty, that doesn’t take into consideration the inconvenience or the time lost in waiting for repairs to be made.

The fact is that while we can wish for anything, we really can’t plan for everything that may happen if the wish comes true – although we think we can.

Some schools that have wished and worked for government vouchers have been overjoyed when they found out that vouchers were approved…only to find that schools can end up closing because of them.   Therefore, it’s very important to call things by their right names, and define what is meant by “vouchers,” or “tax credits,” or “scholarships,” and the qualifications necessary for a family to receive this type of assistance.

And remember, the media doesn’t help to facilitate this learning.  It’s akin to referring to “financial aid,” “tuition assistance,” and “scholarship” as the same thing, when it’s really not…but it provides a synonym to a journalist or reporter who doesn’t want to keep repeating the same terminology over and over.

There are schools that have, after learning they’ll receive a voucher for $4000 from qualified families, raised their tuition significantly to take full advantage of the amount.  The unintended consequence was that families who did not qualify just received a hefty tuition increase, and, before hearing anything about how they could possibly receive financial aid, simply decided to disenroll their children from the school.

Further, since families received vouchers that were intended to cover the entire cost of schooling, there was no compulsion to purchase uniforms, or to encourage families to volunteer for events or assist in the fundraising activities of the school.

Since vouchers are on the lips of many state officials as well as school leaders today, it helps to really know what one is getting into, and what can happen once a wish is granted.  Once it happens, unintended consequences happen.  It’s not just about the money, just as it’s not all about the family’s participation, the formation of a safe and caring community, the fostering of academic excellence, and preparing students to serve, inspire, and nurture others as well as grow and succeed.  It’s about ALL of it.