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The National Education Policy Center asks whether the tide has turned against vouchers.
i would argue in response to their question that there was never a tide favoring vouchers except among politicians who took campaign contributions from voucher supporters or who ideologically hate everything public.
No public referendum on vouchers has ever endorsed them. The latest was in Arizona in 2018, where two-thirds of voters opposed vouchers while re-electing a rightwing governor funded by the Koch machine.
Vouchers lost in Florida in 2012, despite the support of Jeb Bush, and despite the fact that the referendum was deceptively called a vote on “religious liberty.”
Vouchers lost in deep red Utah in 2007, overwhelmingly.
Indiana has the nation’s most expansive voucher program, but only 3.5% of kidsebrolled and most had never attended public schools. They were religious families looking for public. Only for their religious education.
NEPC sees other reasons toquestion the appeal or feasibility of vouchers.
“Late last year in Montana, the State Supreme Court struck down the state’s three-year-old neovoucher program, ruling against the constitutionality of tax-credit-funded voucher law because it funded private, religious education.
”In November in Arizona, voters rejected the proposed expansion of Empowerment Scholar- ship Accounts, state tax dollars that parents can use for home schooling, private schooling and other educational expenses. An audit by the state’s attorney general subsequently found that parents had misspent or attempted to misspend the funds on such expenses as cosmet- ics, non-educational music albums, and entry into a seasonal haunted house.
“A couple years before that, the Supreme Court in Nevada concluded that the state’s “Educa- tion Savings Account” voucher plan violated the Nevada constitution because of a funding mechanism that drew money away from public schools.
”In Colorado, in 2017, a slate of school board candidates funded by the American Federation of Teachers ousted a set of Koch-backed opponents who introduced a pilot school voucher program in a conservative Denver suburb.
“And at the national level, the Republican-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may have the (almost certainly unintended) consequence of substantially reducing federal tax benefits for wealthy donors to neovoucher programs. Internal Revenue Service guidance on the matter is expected any day now, according to Carl Davis, a tax policy expert who is the research di- rector at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.”
Academic research has converged on a consensus: Kids who take vouchers get lower test scores.
Vouchers are on life support but they hang around because state courts packed with rightwing judges decided to ignore the plain language of their state constitutions.
They aren’t dead. But they drain money from public schools where there are certified teachers and where kids are not indoctrinated to Bible Belt theories.