Although urban legislators have been divided on the question of private school vouchers, rural legislators have voted them down, realizing that vouchers offer no benefit to rural districts, but instead endanger their already fragile budgets.
Indiana’s voucher program, for example, has drawn rural students into religious schools to the detriment of small, vulnerable districts. Only 15 children in Richland-Bean Blossom attendance district used vouchers in the 2013-2014 school year, soon after Indiana passed voucher legislation in 2011.
By 2016-2017 that number had increased to 41. Result? $200,000 less in revenue for Richland-Bean Blossom, sparking talk of closing schools.
He also outlines the academic harm caused by vouchers:
To make matters worse, vouchers often fail to improve outcomes for the students. Rigorous studies in three different states, Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio, (as well as the District of Columbia, the only federally funded voucher program), have shown that students who use vouchers to attend private schools fare worse academically than their closely matched peers attending public schools.
Kidd points out what the evidence shows: Vouchers are problematic for rural communities financially and end up leaving the kids they purport to help behind.
Our legislature should heed his warning.
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