School voucher proposals seem to be much in the news these days. Wisconsin’s governor would like to expand their program beyond its current geographic confines of Milwaukee and Racine. New Jersey’s governor wishes to initiate a program. The state’s supreme court recently upheld Indiana’s program as constitutional.
Despite the seeming flurry of activity, it may be quite a while before voucher programs affect TABS Members’ recruiting, if ever. TABS manages links to information sources in the Helpful Links section of the TABS Library (scroll to bottom).
One useful source, for example, is the web site of the National Conference of State Legislatures. In a table, the NCSL lists currently active state voucher programs and their characteristics. Only a dozen states, plus the District of Columbia, currently run programs. In five of them, only students with certain types of disabilities are eligible. Maine and Vermont have long had voucher programs, but they are largely limited to use in rural areas where no public schools exist nearby.
Two states and DC provide vouchers only to students from households near or below the poverty line. Another two states allow vouchers for both the poor and those with certain disabilities. But, the vouchers for students from poor families can be meager. Ohio and Louisiana cap them at about 50% of the average public school tuition. The caps are higher in Wisconsin, DC, and Indiana, but still do not exceed average public school tuition. The average per-pupil expenditures in these five jurisdictions in 2009-2010 were, respectively, $13, $12, $13, $24, and $11 thousand. In Ohio, private schools “cannot charge tuition above the value of the voucher to students.”