Vouchers Languish as Public Prefers Charter Schools

by Colette Moran

In an article entitled “Are Vouchers Dead?,” author Abby Rapoport tells us that even Republican-controlled state legislatures are opposing most voucher programs and opting instead for charter schools.

Leslie Hiner, the vice president of programs and state relations at the pro-voucher Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, concedes that legislatures don’t warm to voucher policies as easily as they do to charters. While “vouchers have always been the heart of the school choice movement,” she says, in more recent years groups pushing for charter schools have had the ears of lawmakers. The messaging is easier. When you talk about charters “you’re talking about schools,” she says. “When you talk about vouchers you talking about funding an individual child to go to a school chosen by their parents.”

Among the existing voucher programs, most aren’t for the general population. Of the 12 states with voucher plans, only four states and the District of Columbia offer voucher programs to low-income students or students in failing schools. The rest offer programs specifically designed for special needs students or kids living in rural areas that lack a nearby public school. This year, Mississippi and Utah have passed bills amending their voucher programs, but both remain strictly for children with special needs.

Public polling on the issue is difficult because each side often complains about skewing because of how the questions are asked. Those opposed to vouchers have sometimes succeeded in blocking programs by claiming that some schools that would benefit have “anti-science curriculums.”

As someone who has been in favor of school choice since I was in the fourth grade and realized how unfair it was that my parents paid taxes to support public schools as well as tuition for my Catholic grammar school, I am quite disheartened. Seems we must educate the public — and apparently certain Republican office holders.

Full article here. 


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