You are hereVouchers: Another bad, costly example of privatization
Vouchers: Another bad, costly example of privatization
This is not the time to start a new expensive government program and new bureaucracy, in a time of fiscal austerity, when Gov. Corbett is indicating there will be widespread cuts to all areas of state government, including public education. We should fix public schools that are struggling, not abandon them using a voucher program.
BELOW: Cost, Accountability, Access, Good News, Research on Voucher Programs
· A tuition voucher program would be a new government program with high costs and no accountability.
· We don’t know the details of Senate Bill 1, but it is clear from the brief three-page outline that it contains a phase-in, meaning the costs grow over time. And voucher proponents will push for even more expansion of the program.
· When was the last time we heard of a new government program that gives out money getting smaller, or ever going away?
· Vouchers cost more than the present system, while draining resources from the students who need them most. At a time when the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s own study points out that the state’s public
· schools are under-funded by $4 billion, private school vouchers are an experiment we can’t afford.
· Voucher proponents talk about “savings” to public schools, but it’s an illusion. Public schools still have the same overhead costs -- maintaining buildings, transporting and feeding students, providing other support services -- and can’t reduce staff if a few students transferred to private schools.
· Vouchers are an expensive and divisive distraction from the real education issues that parents care about -- teacher quality, class size, and teacher/parent communication.
· If state funding is cut and vouchers further drain dollars from school districts, it is very likely that the result will be higher property taxes as school district struggle to fill their budget gaps.
· Apparently SB 1 has no accountability whatsoever for tax dollars. There would be no measures in place to make sure students are achieving at higher levels. How would the Commonwealth find out if it is getting a return on its investment? There has to be accountability to ensure private schools are spending taxpayer money for its intended purposes.
· It’s Accounting 101: if you’re paying for something, you want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. What’s wrong with holding private schools accountable, by requiring private schools to administer the same tests and publish
· the results, following the same reporting requirements as public schools? What are the qualifications for a private school – any fly-by-night private school – that might receive vouchers?
· Don’t allow voucher proponents to frame the debate as a civil rights issue – it’s the schools (not the parent) that make the final choice on which students to accept and which to turn away.
· If voucher advocates were serious about civil rights, they’d be demanding that all private schools receiving voucher money be required to accept ALL students, regardless of special needs or learning disabilities.
· It’s the schools, not the families, that ultimately decide which students to accept, and which students to turn away. Private schools can deny admission to students for any reason. Neighboring public school districts are not going to raise local property taxes to add staff and expand facilities in order to accept voucher students.
· There is a great deal of good news about Pennsylvania public schools, and it is a direct result of the public’s investment in public education at the federal, state and local levels.
· Pennsylvania public schools are among the best in the nation, according to many objective measures and research from respected institutions. Student achievement is continuously improving, thanks to the efforts of teachers and education support professionals who work with our children every day. Many Pennsylvania taxpayers might not realize what a good return they get on their investment in public schools.
· National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Indicators of Success:
· Pennsylvania’s reading scores are among the nation's best: Only six states have statistically significant higher 4th grade reading scores than PA
· NO STATES have statistically significant higher 8th grade reading scores than PA.
· Pennsylvania’s math scores are among the nation's best: Only 4 states have statistically significant higher 4th grade math scores than PA.
· Only seven states have statistically significant higher 8th grade math scores than PA.
· If some schools are struggling, let’s improve them: when you have a pothole in the road, you don’t stop driving on a road, you fix the pothole
RESEARCH ON VOUCHER PROGRAMS :
- The unfounded claim is that vouchers improve student achievement. The research, however, does not support this.
- Although the average scores for private schools are higher than those for public schools, when the comparison is adjusted to account for student characteristics such as race and ethnicity, disability status, and identification as an English language learner, public school students perform as well as, and even better than private school students.
- Researchers at the University of Illinois analyzed the test scores of more than 340,000 4th and 8th grade students in 13,000 traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools, on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly called “the nation’s report card.” They found that “demographic differences between students in public and private schools more than account for the relatively high raw scores of private schools… after controlling for these differences, the presumably advantageous ‘private school effect’ disappears, and even reverses in most cases.”
- An analysis of the same data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that after adjusting for selected student characteristics, there was virtually no difference in the scores of public and private school students in grade four reading and 8th grade mathematics. The adjusted school average was actually higher for public school in fourth grade mathematics, while it was higher in private schools only in grade eight reading.
- In addition, a reanalysis of data from two studies using different national data sets (the Education Longitudinal Study and the National Educational Longitudinal Study) suggests there is little difference between public and private high school student performance.
- An official evaluation of the Milwaukee voucher program, conducted by Professor John Witte of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, lasted from 1990 through 1995. In his final report, Witte found that “achievement (of voucher students), as measured by standardized tests, was no different than the achievement of MPS (Milwaukee Public School) students.”
- Cleveland’s voucher program was evaluated from April 1997 through December 2003 with similar results of no improvement in academic achievement of private school students over those who attended public school. The evaluation, commissioned by the Ohio Department of Education, also found that the high cost to attend private school -- even with a voucher -- as well as the limited number and range of participating private schools, discouraged many low-income families from participating. Families who did use the vouchers had higher incomes, were more likely to be Caucasian, and were more likely than public school students to have been enrolled in private schools in the prior year.
- The cumulative effect of this trend, according to the official evaluation, is that the voucher students are proportionately less minority and more affluent compared to their public school peers.25 Re-analysis of achievement data from the Cleveland program also found “no academic advantages for voucher users; in fact, users appear to perform slightly worse in math.”
- More recent studies of the Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. publicly funded voucher programs also suggest that voucher programs offer no “silver bullet.” Both studies found no significant difference in student achievement in mathematics between students attending public school and those participating in the voucher program. In addition, it appears the vouchers had no impact on the scores of students who transferred to private schools from the most academically challenged public schools.
- Even studies of international voucher programs also highlight that voucher programs provide limited, if any, benefits for needy students and can even increase social and economic segregation among schools. Vouchers in Chile, for example, have had a negative effect on student achievement, while broadening the achievement gap between low-income and middle and upper-income students.
- For more information on Vouchers visit this link