Vouchers have been a fact in American private school education since 1989 when the State of Wisconsin passed a voucher program which aimed to help students from low income families in Milwaukee. Since then 39 voucher programs have been set up. According to the American Federation for Children the following states now have some form of voucher program:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
What exactly are vouchers? The simplest definition is using public funds to pay for a private school education. Voucher programs take many forms and we will look at those later in this article.
How many students nationwide benefit from voucher programs? In 2014 approximately 308,000 students were recipients of some kind of tax dollars in voucher programs or variations thereof. That is 0.006% of the K-12 public school student population which was approximately 50 million at the beginning of the 2014 school year. The actual expenditure is in the millions of dollars which like the number of students in voucher programs is tiny.
What is the future of voucher programs? As of 2015 voucher programs are state-sponsored, state-managed and state-funded programs. Some politicians, however, would like to see federal funds used for voucher programs nationwide. Why? Because their constituents are disatisfied with underperforming public schools.
What does the public education community think about vouchers? Needless to say, voucher programs in all their forms and variations are complete anathema to the teachers unions and the supporters of public education. Why? Because
Arizona Independent Schools Scholarship Foundation
The Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program
Georgia Tax Credit for Private School Costs and Scholarship Donations
Illinois—Education Expenses Credit
Iowa—Education Tax Credits
Iowa—School Tuition Organization Tax Credit
Louisiana—Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program
Louisiana—Elementary and Secondary School Tuition Deduction
Minnesota K–12 Education Credit and Subtraction Program
Ohio—Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program
Ohio—Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (EdChoice)
Pennsylvania—Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program
Rhode Island—Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations
Rhode Island Scholarship Alliance
Utah—Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs Program
Wisconsin—Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
District of Columbia—DC Opportunity Scholarship Program
As you read about these schools and watch the videos, remember that all of these schools believe very emphatically that an education does not consist solely of academics. Each of these schools understands that a child needs nurturing and counselling so that he can make the most of the opportunities before him. These schools expect the child's family to be involved. His education is a partnership of three: home, school and student. That's what it takes to provide the solid foundation a child needs in order to succeed in his adult life.
De Marillac Academy, San Francisco, is an example of the very best sort of educational initiative sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church. Established by Daughters of Charity and De La Salle Christian Brothers the school provides tuition free schooling for middle school age children in one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods. More about the mission of the Academy here.
The key to De Marillac's ability to accomplish its mission is the Academy's Schoolwide Learning Expectations. The Academy isn't providing simply a top-notch