The Truth About Vouchers
- Fact: There's no link between vouchers and gains in student achievement
- Fact: Vouchers undermine accountability for public funds
- Fact: Vouchers do not reduce public education costs
- Fact: Vouchers do not give parents real educational choice
- Fact: The public disapproves of vouchers
Fact: There's no link between vouchers and gains in student achievement
There’s no conclusive evidence that vouchers improve the achievement of students who use them to attend private school. Nor is there any validity to claims that, by creating a “competitive marketplace” for students, vouchers force public schools to improve. In fact, the most dramatic improvements in student achievement have occurred in places where vouchers do not exist — such as Texas and Connecticut. Instead, those states and communities focused on teacher quality and extra help for students who need it.
Fact: Vouchers undermine accountability for public funds
Private schools have almost complete autonomy with regard to how they operate: who they teach, what they teach, how they teach, how — if at all — they measure student achievement, how they manage their finances, and what they are required to disclose to parents and the public. The absence of public accountability for voucher funds has contributed to rampant fraud, waste and abuse in current voucher programs.
Fact: Vouchers do not reduce public education costs
Actually, they increase costs, by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems, one public and one private.
Fact: Vouchers do not give parents real educational choice
Participating private schools may limit enrollment, and in many cases may maintain exclusive admissions policies and charge tuition and fees far above the amount provided by the voucher. Unlike public schools, private and religious schools can — and do — discriminate in admissions on the basis of gender, religion, special needs, behavioral history, prior academic achievement, standardized test scores, interviews with applicants and parents, and income.
Fact: The public disapproves of vouchers
By overwhelming margins, Americans prefer improving their public schools to spending scarce tax dollars on voucher programs. Since 1966, vouchers or voucher-related measures have been placed before voters in 13 states and the District of Columbia 22 times. With the lone exception of South Dakota — which approved the provision of textbooks to parochial schools in 1986 — voters have rejected public aid to private and religious schools every time. In those 22 elections, nearly two out of three voters cast “no” votes.
Vouchers are any form of public payment to help parents send their children to private schools, including religious schools. They may take the form of direct government payments to parents, tax credits parents can take for tuition payments, or “scholarships” from nonprofit organizations that receive donations for which the donors, in turn, receive a tax credit.
These programs frequently support private schools that may discriminate against students and their families, and do not necessarily subsidize the full cost of private education for those students who are accepted. Voucher supporters use terms with marketing appeal such as “opportunity scholarships” and “parental choice” because they know the word “voucher” costs them public support.
Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are the latest trend in publicly subsidized private school education. Also known as Education Scholarship Accounts, Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA), or an Individualized Education Account Program (IEAP), the common factor is that these programs pay parents all or a large portion of the money the state would otherwise have spent to educate their children in exchange for an agreement to forego their right to a public education.
Consistent with all voucher programs, they divert taxpayer funds to subsidize private choices and undermine principles of equity and accountability, all while doing nothing to improve the quality of education.
Tuition Tax Credits (TTCs) are a form of voucher that is integrated into the tax code to be used by parents to subsidize private schools. Individuals and corporations can make donations to a foundation that turns the money into private school vouchers, and get a tax credit in return. Corporations are more often than not the beneficiaries of these schemes, and they get a tax break while undermining public education in our communities. TTCs reduce the amount of money available for evidence-based school improvement strategies that address the specific needs of each school community. TTCs are sometimes also deceptively called “Tax Credit Scholarships.”
- 90%of our nation's K-12 students attend public schools.
- 0transparency of how public funds are spent at private schools using vouchers.
- 96%of public votes since 1966 have voted against vouchers.
- 0statistical significance for student improvement due to vouchers.