May 7, 2023

Nina Mast: State and local experience proves school vouchers are a failed policy

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Writing for the Economic Policy Institute, Nina Mast highlights some of the groups opposing vouchers. She also lists some of the research findings that show how vouchers fail as public education policy.

  • Vouchers do not improve educational outcomes and likely worsen them. There is an extensive body of research finding that voucher programs do not improve student achievement. Recent studies in four states all showed that students who used vouchers experienced worse academic outcomes than their peers, and a study of voucher programs in Milwaukee found that voucher students performed better after transferring from private to public schools.
  • Vouchers represent a redistribution of public funding to private entities that leads to fewer funds available for public goods. An analysis of voucher programs in seven states found an unmistakable trend of decreased funding for public schools as a result of voucher expansion. Given the causal relationship between school funding and student achievement, denying public schools the funds necessary to educate students directly harms student outcomes.
  • Vouchers benefit the wealthy at the expense of low-income and rural communities. Vouchers mostly fund students who are already attending private school, and wealthy families are overwhelmingly the recipients of school voucher tax credits—they can even use tax shelters to profit from “donations” to voucher organizations. Further, since vouchers typically do not cover the full cost of private school, low-income families are still unable to afford private school education—even with a voucher—and few rural students have access to private schools. Since many private schools do not provide transportation, low-income students in both urban and rural areas lack affordable and accessible transportation to and from school.
  • Unlike public schools, private school voucher programs lack accountability and oversight. A 2020 study found that only about half of states with voucher programs require teachers to have bachelor’s degrees; even fewer states require that teachers are licensed, and fewer still require participating private schools to report graduation rates. Since many states do not collect data on students who use vouchers and do not require reporting on how funds are used, it is difficult to evaluate the impacts of vouchers on student achievement, and there are many examples of fraud and abuse of public funds diverted to vouchers.

Read the full post hereState and local experience proves school vouchers are a failed policy that must be opposed: As voucher expansion bills gain momentum, look to public school advocates for guidance | Economic Policy Institute ( for further explanation of how vouchers are unpopular, undemocratic policy.

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