Keep Public Dollars in Public Schools

We support quality school choice and innovative programs within Idaho’s constitutionally protected public school system oppose any form of taxpayer subsidy to private schools and vendors.

Vouchers are taxpayer-funded government subsidies for private schools and vendors that siphon scarce and desperately needed tax dollars away from public school classrooms.

Often proposed under seemingly benign labels like “scholarships,” “school choice,” or “parental choice,” vouchers reduce fair access to educational opportunity, provide no discernable educational benefit to students and offer no accountability to taxpayers for results.

Vouchers are particularly troublesome for rural schools and less affluent areas, where school resources are scarce, and students and families have fewer if any, non-public school education choices than in more affluent urban areas.

Taking tax dollars from rural public schools to help a select few pay private school tuition in urban areas is unfair and leaves too many hard-working Idaho families vulnerable.

Neither publicly elected school boards nor state officials oversee private schools, leaving taxpayers without input, insight, or recourse about how tax dollars given to voucher schemes are spent. Unlike public schools, private schools are not required to comply with any laws or rules related to the type of education they provide. Nor are they required to serve all students, as public schools are.




What is wrong with parental or school choice?

Absolutely nothing, as long as taxpayer dollars are not used to create that choice outside of Idaho public schools. In fact, Idaho public schools already offer a wide and varied menu of free, public education choices for Idaho families, including:

Online virtual charter schools
In-person charter schools
Gifted and talented education
Special education
Alternative education
Career technical education
Magnet schools

Reversing Idaho’s decades of chronic underfunding of public education will undoubtedly spur even more innovation and choice in Idaho’s public school system.

How do vouchers create inequity among public schools?

Private schools are allowed to limit enrollment, and in many cases may maintain exclusive admissions policies and charge tuition and fees far above the amount provided by the voucher. Unlike public schools, private and religious schools can — and do — discriminate in admissions on the basis of gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability, behavioral history, prior academic achievement, standardized test scores, interviews with applicants and parents, and income.

Don’t vouchers improve student performance?

Research repeatedly finds that vouchers do not improve student achievement. Recent studies of Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio voucher programs find that students using vouchers experienced worse academic outcomes than their public school peers

Doesn’t it make sense to have education tax dollars follow the child?

When a student leaves a public school, fixed costs such as teacher salaries, utilities, and transportation don’t decrease. Vouchers leave less funding for most students, which hurts all of our public schools. Despite additional
funding provided in recent legislative sessions, Idaho still ranks near the bottom of all states in per-pupil funding.

Won’t vouchers give us more certainty about how education dollars are being spent?

No. In fact, the opposite is true. Private schools are not held accountable to taxpayers through elected office holders like school board members and state lawmakers. Transparency is a recognized problem with voucher school
programs around the country and, as a result, taxpayer dollars are often misused.

Don’t vouchers benefit all segments of society?

No. Vouchers are often advertised by proponents as financial support intended
for low-income families seeking higher-quality education options. Research on voucher programs across the nation tell a different story. Vouchers are often used by higher-income families to attend private schools — schools parents would have selected even without the availability of a voucher. Many private
school tuitions are much higher than voucher amounts, making it hard for lower-income families to supplement the difference.

What Do Idahoans Think?

62% say using tax dollars to pay for private school tuition is not important.

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