Voucher Program a Failure

Posted 1/20/16

Across the U.S. and in Mississippi, voucher programs have been a failure and a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

Nationally, research shows that children receiving vouchers to attend private schools perform no better than, and often worse than, their peers in public schools while diminishing resources for children being educated in public schools. The net result is negative. (See research)

In 2015, Mississippi's leadership pushed through a voucher bill, purportedly for children with special needs, despite overwhelming opposition from constituents. The program is a public policy failure. Of the more than 50,000 children with special needs in Mississippi public schools, 251 were qualified and approved to receive vouchers. Of those, only 107 appear to have used them, .0018 of one percent of Mississippi's children with special needs.

Mississippi Department of Education officials reported that they received calls from parents of voucher recipients saying that no private school would accept their children and they had no place to use the voucher. These parents learned first hand the great lie of school/parent choice: parents don't get to choose, the voucher schools do, and they choose exclusively students and parents who are "the right fit" for their schools.

While the voucher program funding sits unused, programs for children with special needs in public schools are under-funded this year by more than $12-million.

Legislators have said that they want to fund "what works." When it comes to improving student achievement, vouchers do not work. Diverting public funds to private education ventures is harming our children while education privatizers and profiteers are celebrating.