Twelve of 26 voucher programs nationwide are aimed specifically at students with disabilities, as are 3 of 5 educational savings account programs, 2 of 21 tax-credit scholarship programs, and 1 of 9 individual tax credits or deductions.
Allowing federal special education money to follow students would be a radical departure from the current funding mechanism, a complex formula that is tied to a state’s overall share of students as well as its population of students in poverty. And if a voucher program were financed only with federal money, each student’s share would be small based on current funding levels: about $1,800 per student for those ages 3 to 21 with disabilities, according to U.S. Department of Education figures.
The federal tax credit proposal is one of several ideas under review by the White House to fulfill Donald Trump’s campaign promise to promote the expansion of charter schools and vouchers that would allow families of low income to use public money for private school tuition, sources tell POLITICO.
Rural schools have trouble recruiting and retaining good teachers and principals because housing is so limited, pay is so low and working conditions so difficult, education advocates say. Trump has decried failing public schools that are “flush with cash,” but many rural schools — hobbled by a poor local tax base and weak state support — struggle with tight and often shrinking budgets.
“Perhaps the most striking result in the paper is that, for the average church running a voucher-accepting school in the data, vouchers provide more revenue than any other source.”
The tax-credit structure is especially significant when considering what could happen under DeVos in the Trump administration, because it could be a way to promote school choice on a federal level without writing big checks. “There isn’t that much money that is fungible from the federal education budget,” points out Samuel Abrams, an expert in education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Scott’s bill — the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act, or CHOICE Act — is a three-pronged approach to devoting more federal funding to voucher programs for children to attend the private schools and, in some cases, the public schools of their choice.
Today nearly 30 states have vouchers or some closely related form of private school choice, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. What follows is an overview of the big trends, research data, and concerns associated with school vouchers. Links to additional resources are included for those who would like to dig deeper.
Empowerment Scholarship Accounts allow parents to take money that would otherwise go directly to their local public school, and put it toward private-school tuition, homeschooling, tutoring, therapy, and other education-related expenses. Critics of the program say it siphons money away from public district schools, and over time, could substantially erode school funding.
School vouchers are dollar-based credits that parents can use to pay for schools beyond their neighborhood. Those options may include public schools in nearby districts, private schools and, occasionally, parochial schools. Unfortunately, the education “marketplace” is not ready to handle this game-changer. That’s because what makes a real marketplace work—good information, pricing flexibility and low friction—just doesn’t exist.