Indiana: Vouchers Hurt Not Help Education

money_exchangePublic funding of private schools takes many forms with variable results.  Following practices in different states informs our thinking.

The Indiana Center for Tax and Budget Accountability argues that vouchers hurt, not help the education of children.  Look at their arguments.  What would improve education?

This is an interesting report.

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability published an evaluation of the tax credit scholarship program in Indiana.  Indiana supports private schools through income tax deductions, vouchers, and tax credits.  They ask two questions:

  • Does the documented track record of voucher programs enhance student achievement?  The short and clear answer is NO.  Studies from Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington D.C. were cited.
  • Can voucher programs be expected to improve public education based on reforms in the five nations that have the highest PISA scores in reading, math, and science?  Indiana’s voucher programs are contrary to best practice education reforms in Korea, Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada.

The report states that high achieving nations use capacity building, not competition and choice, to improve the educational system overall.  Capacity building at its core includes:  initiatives that build skills for teachers through enhanced pedagogy, group work, collaboration, and mentoring.  Investing sufficient resources to accomplish these initiatives is critical.

Key findings in the Indiana report are relevant to other states:

  • The voucher program will divert money from public schools to subsidize tuition for students in private schools.
  • This private school curriculum is not required to follow state curriculum and is of uncertain quality.  Private schools receiving vouchers, however, do take state assessments.  Studies show that public schools are higher achieving than private schools.
  • Subsidizing individual decisions that do not generate a public good–even a legitimate one well within the rights of the parents making them–is an inappropriate use of public money.  The Indiana vouchers, moreover, are not income means tested.  They will lower local community tax revenue used for other public services like police and fire. Since vouchers may go to students already enrolled in private schools, funding for public schools will decrease.

The study concludes that Indiana Choice legislation may actually impede student achievement and harm the educational system generally.  “The nations that have been most successful in improving student achievement over time have focused on system based reforms and have eschewed reforms based on competition and choice”. 

 

 

Posted in Indiana, Tax credit scholarships, Vouchers.

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