Arizona just expanded its voucher program so that every child in the state will be eligible for a voucher.
This is worth noting as Tennessee continues to debate adopting a voucher “pilot program” this year. We’re told by voucher advocates this will be limited to Shelby County and won’t expand unless is “works.”
The evidence in states like Indiana and now Arizona, however, suggests that once voucher programs get started, they don’t stop. Instead, they grow and comprise more and more of a state’s education budget. Indiana’s voucher program grew from 7500 students to more than 30,000 in just five years and now costs the state $131 million.
Derek Black describes the Arizona situation this way:
If one understands the facts, one understands that this voucher program is not about helping kids in Arizona “win.” It is about raw politics and continuing the longstanding trend of depriving public schools of the resources they need to succeed. If parents in Arizona want vouchers (or charters), it is not because those policies are normatively appealing. It is because the state has been robbing them of the public education they deserve. Many families now surely believe they have no other realistic option. In short, the state has created the factual predicate of failing public schools to create the justification for its own pet project of privatizing education.
And here’s what’s going on in Indiana:
Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading.
Vouchers don’t work. And those small programs quickly grow out of control — costing taxpayers more money and yielding disappointing results.
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