Background on Private School Vouchers

Private school boys in a classroom working on laptops

Houston ISD/Dave Einsel:

Vouchers Divert Federal Taxpayer Dollars Away from Public Schools

State-funded programs for private schools have existed in some states since the 19th century to enable rural students without a nearby public school to attend private schools. Modern voucher programs in a few states began in 1989 and aimed at improving achievement among low-income and special needs students. The District of Columbia is the only area with a federally funded voucher program.

Voucher proponents contend that using public funds to subsidize private school tuition will improve both student achievement and school performance. However, research has shown no conclusive evidence that this is the result.

NSBA supports direct efforts to help underperforming public schools and students. Public school vouchers divert federal funding away from public schools, which is especially detrimental to low-income and special needs students.

NSBA’s Efforts in Congress

Although the 113th Congress has repeatedly rejected voucher proposals, some lawmakers continue to push for allowing tax dollars to be used for private school or tuition tax credits. During this Congressional session, NSBA:

  • Continues to oppose the District of Columbia voucher program, the only federally funded voucher initiative, which has expired but continues to receive funding.
  • Successfully defeated voucher proposals in March and June 2013 to use Title I funds for private schools, in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

In these efforts, NSBA participates in the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE), a coalition of more than 50 public policy, education, religious and civil rights organizations.

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