The Kansas Legislature is considering voucher bills that would allow tax dollars to subsidize private schools and home schools.
Kansas legislators should know the pitfalls of offering tax dollars to fund private schools. Here are a few:
Private schools are not held to the same level of accountability as public schools. Private schools can pick and choose the students they want, leaving public schools with the ones they don’t. School vouchers will redistribute tax dollars, funneling money away from public schools.
School vouchers don’t improve education. It’s hard to find an apples to apples study, but there is some evidence that when compared with similar public school students, voucher recipients perform on the same level or worse. There isn’t a definitive study, however, because private schools may not be held to the same standard as public schools and they may not be obligated to use standard testing or to report student progress to the state.
Most school vouchers go to subsidize religious schools. After all, that’s the number one reason parents give for choosing to use vouchers. Our legislators should know that our tax dollars are intended to pay for good secular education of all children, not the religious education of a few.
It is tempting to think that parents should be able to use “their” tax dollars to send their children to any school they want. But not all taxpayers have children in school. It would make just about as much sense for individuals to receive a voucher for street repairs, and use “their” tax dollars to choose which potholes are filled first. Parents are free to choose to see their children taught at a private institution but they should be responsible for paying the cost, rather than taking money from taxpayers at the expense of public school children.
Here is why the Kansans Association of School Boards is urging a “no” vote on one of the new education bills (House Bill 2119):
“It would harm Kansas students and the future of our state. ... Under the provision, there are no requirements for the private schools to be accredited or provide any transparency on how the students are doing. This is unfair to Kansas taxpayers and would create a two-tier education system that may benefit some students while hurting the majority of students.”