School Vouchers 101

What are School Vouchers?

School vouchers are taxpayer-funded subsidies given to private schools and vendors without transparency and accountability for results.

Over the years, supporters of such policies, including well-funded, out-of-state special interest groups, have worked to siphon public dollars away from public schools.

Raise Your Hand Texas opposes any policy, including virtual vouchers, that would divert state money for public education from our public schools.

Vouchers Hurt

 


Types of School Vouchers

Whether it’s calling them “grants,” “tax credits,” and “scholarships,” “debit cards,” or “savings accounts,” voucher supporters have tried many tactics to divert taxpayer dollars from public education and students. The vendors and private schools who would benefit from voucher programs do not have to comply with the same rules and standards that ensure accountability, transparency, and access for all students. Any use of state funds for private educational purposes is a voucher.

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Traditional Vouchers

Strip money from public schools in the form of grants parents can use for their children to attend private schools.

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Education Savings Accounts

The state creates a taxpayer-funded account parents can use for private school enrollment and other educational services.

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Tax Credit Scholarships

With this type of voucher, the state funnels tax credits to corporations or individuals who have donated to scholarship organizations that would pay for students to attend private schools.

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Virtual or Special Education Grants

Often targeted at certain populations of students, including students with disabilities or who want to attend school remotely through a private vendor, these vouchers divert funds from our public schools to private vendors in an effort to create a statewide network of publicly funded private virtual schools.

Tax Credit Scholarships Are Not Philanthropy

For years, voucher proponents have tried to create tax credit scholarship programs to allow corporations’ tax payments to be reimbursed by the state and sent directly to private schools and vendors. Learn how this type of voucher is designed to make a corporate tax break look like philanthropy.

The Threat of the Education Savings Account (ESA) Vouchers

Education Savings Accounts are one of the tactics used most in recent years by voucher proponents.

ESA vouchers allow parents to hold public funds in an account to be used for private school tuition, homeschooling, private tutors, online courses, and purchases from an array of private vendors.

Though marketed as distinct from traditional school vouchers, the ESA is simply a different way to redirect public taxpayer dollars to pay for private, unregulated, and unaccountable services.

Source: Six Big Problems with Education Savings Accounts. Forbes. February 1, 2021

What Special Education “Grants” Really Do

Voucher programs targeted at special education services are created to divert funding for education to private schools and vendors instead of similar programs in public schools that would be required to serve all students. With most special education voucher proposals, students are required to give up the protections they have under federal law. In Texas, while a supplemental services grant for students with special needs has been created using emergency federal stimulus funding, these students continue to be enrolled in their public schools. As this federal stimulus funding is used, state lawmakers must continue to ensure accountability through meaningful public oversight and refrain from expanding the use of additional state or federal tax dollars for this purpose.

Read Our Position Paper

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