A variety of studies in recent years have revealed that private school voucher schemes don’t live up to their promises of giving families better options and improving public schools through competition. Now a new study reveals that private schools most available to the low-income families that vouchers are supposed to help tend not to offer academic benefits over public schools.

The report, Private Schooling in the U.S.: Expenditures, Supply, and Policy Implications, comes from an extensive examination of 1,500 private schools nationally. It was jointly published by the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University.

In short, the report reveals that the cost and quality of private schools is strongly associated with the religious affiliation of the schools. Non-Catholic Christian schools tend to cost the least, but those schools also tend to pay teachers the least, have teachers with the weakest academic records, have higher student-to-teacher ratios, and have the lowest student test scores. According to the study, Catholic schools tend to approximate public schools in those categories.

More expensive private schools — many of them Hebrew and independent (generally not religiously affiliated) day schools —… Read More

The Texas House has just voted 122-22 to bar any public funding for private school voucher schemes in the next state budget. We just released the following statement from Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller:… Read More

The Texas House of Representatives today is taking up the state’s budget bill. Yesterday the Texas Freedom Network sent out the following Action Alert:

Upcoming House Budget Debate Will Include Critical Votes on Stem Cell Research and Vouchers

Two crucially important issues will be debated when the Texas House of Representatives takes up the state budget (SB 1) starting this Friday. Lawmakers need to hear from Texans like you encouraging them to do the right thing — and letting them know we are watching their vote on these issues. These could be the most important votes on these issues this session.

Please take a moment to call your own state representative, and ask her or him to:

– NO on all amendments to SB 1 that would ban funding for stem cell research in Texas.

– OPPOSE VOUCHERS by voting YES on any amendment that would prohibit the use of any state funds to pay private school tuition.

(Click here to find contact information for your representative.)

And after you call, contact Val or Judie in our Outreach Office to let them know how your representative responded. This information is extremely helpful as… Read More

Proposed schemes for private school vouchers -- which drain money from neighborhood public schools to pay for tuition at private and religious schools -- have sparked heated battles in Texas legislative sessions since the 1990s. Tomorrow the Senate Education Committee will take up two key voucher bills. Senate Bill 1301 by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, would provide vouchers for students with autism and autism spectrum disorder. SB 183 by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, would create a broader voucher program for students with disabilities. All Texas kids, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, deserve a quality education in Texas public schools. But voucher schemes aren't the answer. Why? Among the reasons: Read More

A Republican Congress instituted the first federally funded private school voucher program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, in the District of Columbia in 2004. The program was a political victory for far-right groups and individuals such as voucher sugardaddy James Leininger of Texas. But it looked likely to fade out of existence due to the efforts of the current Democratic-controlled Congress.

Yet U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is doing her darndest to keep it alive.

See Secretary Spellings’ column appearing in yesterday’s Washington Post:

Signed into law by President Bush four years ago, the program is the first to provide federally funded education vouchers to students. It awards up to $7,500 per child for tuition, transportation and fees; in 2007-08 it enabled 1,900 students from the underperforming Washington public school system — the highest total yet — to attend the private or religious schools of their choice.

Now, let’s look at what Spellings has to say in favor of the program.

First she says that parents like the voucher program, but that’s a non-starter. There are also families who are like their neighborhood public schools. The issue is whether it is wise public policy to divert to… Read More

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