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The Facts on Vouchers

Americans believe deeply in the promise and purpose of public education. Instead of strengthening the public schools that 90 percent of America’s children attend, President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continue to promote private school vouchers and backdoor vouchers in the form of tax credits. These market-based education policies are fueled by ideology instead of what is best for kids.

Private school vouchers take money away from neighborhood public schools, and research shows that voucher programs either fail to increase student performance or actually hurt student achievement. Private school voucher programs lack accountability, fail to protect kids from discrimination and increase segregation. Voters have soundly rejected efforts to push these programs, including in Michigan, where DeVos spent more than $5 million bankrolling a private voucher ballot mea- sure that voters ultimately rejected by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

Private school vouchers don't improve student achievement

Private school vouchers lack accountability

  • In Arizona, a prominent politician who championed the expansion of tax-credit vouchers also profited from them personally, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through a processing compnay he owns.
  • Most private schools, even those receiving taxpayer-funded voucher money, do not have to meet standards for curriculum, testing, teacher qualifications or school quality. In states like Louisiana, students using vouchers are being taught creationism in science classes.
  • In Pennsylvania, private schools that enroll students under a state tax-credit voucher program are not required to provide information on student achievement, testing or demographics.
  • Voucher schools in Florida took taxpayer money for kids not even attending those schools.
  • The taxpayer-funded voucher program in Wisconsin paid $139 million to schools that failed to meet the state’s requirements for operation.

Private school vouchers don't protect students from discrimination

  • Private voucher schools do not have to provide the same rights and protections to students as public schools, including protections in key provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Students who attend these schools are stripped of the First Amendment, due process and other constitutional and statutory rights guaranteed to them in public schools.
  • Most voucher programs also permit schools to discriminate in their admission policies and do not have to accept students with disabilities. Most private schools in the Milwaukee voucher program “lack the full complement of educational programs that students with disabilities are entitled to if they receive their education in the public sector.”
  • An NPR report on Florida's voucher program, which DeVos has promoted as a model for the national expansion of school choice, points out that students with special needs who waive their IDEA rights often cannot find a school who will accept them.
  • A U.S. Department of Education report on the Washington, D.C., voucher program showed that a main reason why students didn’t use a voucher offered to them was that they were unable to find a participating school with services for their learning or physical disability or other special needs.
  • Only four voucher programs in the country require private schools to accept all students with vouchers, space permitting, according to a Government Accountability Office study.
  • A 2013 study of a Georgia tuition tax credit program found that many schools have explicit anti-gay policies or belong to associations that condemn homosexuality. And in North Carolina, voucher programs also fund schools with anti-LGBT policies.

Private school vouchers increase segregation

Private school vouchers take money away from public schools