Should parents have a choice where to send their child to K-12 school? Washington State spends (depending on the district) anywhere from slightly over $12,000/year per student to over $19,000/year per student. We have Charter Schools; Private Schools (religious and not); Home Schooling and Public Schools. There is growing use of “on-line” education as well that will likely continue to expand. Technology is driving changes in education…so do we adapt or continue to live in the past and only allow use of taxes to pay for public schools (and limited support for Charter schools)? Bye-the-way: Steve Jobes even supported school vouchers in 1995 – https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/steve-jobs-explained-how-fix-education-1995?fbclid=IwAR16eYekDLq9FdqxN7e0CluA3ukbeNgUFC5YJ4q-O5lkWMgUG3Bi6pGfQ1o
What do we know about Voucher programs across the United States? We located what seems to be current information at: https://www.edchoice.org/resource-hub/fast-facts/ that we would like to share with you:
Vouchers in Operation
There are 29 voucher programs in 18 states—Arkansas, Florida (2), Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana (2), Maine, Maryland, Mississippi (2), New Hampshire, North Carolina (2), Ohio (5), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin (4)— and Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Fast Facts on Vouchers
- Estimated voucher recipients in 15 states and Washington, D.C.: 192,660.
- Vouchers gained national prominence in 1990, with the creation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Two voucher programs existed prior to that (Vermont: 1869, Maine: 1873).
- Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is the largest voucher program in terms of statewide income-based eligibility (50 percent of families with children).
- Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is also the nation’s largest voucher program in terms of participation (36,290 enrollees in 2018–19).
- Douglas County, Colorado, was home to the only voucher program created by a public school district. In 2017, a newly elected school board rescinded the program.
- Washington, D.C., has the only voucher program authorized by the U.S. Congress.
- Vouchers—specifically Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship Program—were declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris).
The use of vouchers is slowly increasing. Teachers unions are against vouchers because they fear parents would choose non-public school options. Unions have been particularly harsh against Charter schools. Unions also fear competition.
Today, in Washington State, households pay a LOT of taxes for public education. Indeed, ~55% of all property taxes paid go to public schools. Some ~53% of the entire state budget goes to public schools. Public schools are adding curriculum and programs that are causing some parents to be concerned:
- Social Emotional Learning (teaching children how to “feel”);
- Positive Behavioral Intervention & Support (PBIS – rewarding children for doing what is asked);
- Common Core;
- Healthcare (including birth control and access to abortion counseling without parental consent);
- Food – subsidized or free lunches and in some cases other meals. Summer lunch programs.
- Comprehensive Sex Education (where gender identify; alternative life styles and other niche views receive major emphasis)
- In short some parents feel that schools are trying to take over raising children and setting the moral standards and norms (because educators commonly believe parents aren’t doing their job)
Parents increasingly feel that their values are being thrown aside and that their children are being forced to accept views inconsistent with their family values. Frustrated parents try to get their school districts or school boards to listen…rarely making any difference. A growing number of parents are “mad as hell” and looking for ways to re-take control of their Childs education. If a parent wants to send their children to a non-public school or home-school they pay the bill out of their own pocket. This has been “the way” but should it continue?
We would like to float an idea for a school voucher system in Washington State. Realistically we know that the WEA (State Teachers Union) and local teachers unions would fight this tooth and nail. We know the Democrats would fight it as well because it would reduce government control and would reduce the power of the unions and reduce the campaign donations from unions. Saying that, if enough taxpayers, parents and other interested parties wanted to make this happen…it could be done. Following is our idea for a voucher system for your consideration:
- 1/2 (50%) of the money spent per student per year in the school district the household lives in would be available as a voucher. The parent(s) could choose to keep their student in the public school and give that voucher to the district. Or, the student could be enrolled in a non-public school (Charter; Private or Home School using on-line education as/if desired). The voucher funds would be used to support the educational choice. In Southwest Washington private schools appear to run slightly over $6,000/year/student at lower grade levels to slightly over $8,000 per year per student at the high school equivalent level. If the “non-public” option was used the local school district would keep the other 1/2 of the money to use with all enrolled students.
- How much does this work out to? If the local district spend $12,000/year/student then the voucher = $6,000. While it wouldn’t cover the total cost of a non-public school it would have a significant impact in household out-of-pocket costs. For those who home-school it would allow them to purchase curriculum materials, pay for on-line learning services and work with other home-schooling households to collectively purchase educational support services.
That’s it. Households get 1/2 the local spend in their district and use it as they see fit. The public school district keeps the other 1/2 which gives them more money to spend for the remaining students. Parents get choice. It would increase competition and thus excellence.
What say Ye? If you like the idea of a Voucher system contact your local Washington State House and Senate representatives and ask them to sponsor a Voucher bill like what we are proposing. If enough of you make noise change will happen.