Voucher Schemes are Expensive, Ineffective and Unaccountable

Voucher Schemes are Expensive, Ineffective and Unaccountable

Draining Money from Public Schools Will Undermine Progress

October 13, 2006

HOUSTON Private school voucher schemes are expensive, ineffective and unaccountable to taxpayers, the president of the Texas Freedom Network told Senate Education Committee members today.

“There are serious concerns that the Legislature’s school finance plan, which passed just this year, is already underfunded,” TFN President Kathy Miller said at an Education Committee hearing in Houston. “Now some want to pass a voucher scheme that would take millions of tax dollars from public schools to fund private schools that don’t have to meet any state standards and are unaccountable to taxpayers. Most families understand that makes no sense.”

Last year lawmakers considered voucher legislation that would have drained up to $2 billion out of Texas public schools, including nearly $900 million from Houston public schools alone, over a two-year period. Voucher schemes have also drained hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools in other states, including Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Shifting tax dollars from public to private schools continues even though a U.S. Department of Education study this summer flatly contradicted the notion that private schools outperform public schools.

Miller noted that student performance in public school districts like Edgewood ISD in San Antonio began improving after the state moved to equalize funding in the early 1990s. Strong standards on financial transparency, academic accountability and teacher training have also helped improve the state’s public schools.

“Pushing voucher schemes is really more about politics and ideology than common sense,” Miller said. “Vouchers are expensive, ineffective and, worse, will undermine the progress our public schools have made by giving scarce tax dollars to private schools that are unaccountable and unproven.”