Vouchers Do Not Work for Students: Resources to Stop Vouchers
PAGE and our members consistently oppose private school vouchers that give public money to private schools. Vouchers have a poor track record on student learning and reduce state funds for public schools. Georgia has two private school voucher programs, which lack necessary accountability and transparency requirements. Lawmakers pushed three separate voucher bills during the 2021 legislative session, as public schools coped with a cut of more than $380 million to Georgia’s school funding formula.
SB 47: Will open the Special Needs Scholarship, a private school voucher program, to students with a Section 504 Plan and one of about 20 conditions. Before 2021, only students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) were eligible for the program. Despite targeting students with additional needs, the program requires students to waive their rights to services to meet those needs as stated in federal law. Though it has existed for more than a decade, the special needs voucher program has never been evaluated, and little is known about student experiences and outcomes.
SB 47 Current status: Passed 2021 General Assembly
HB 60: Would create a new type of voucher—education savings account (ESAs) vouchers. Funded with state money that would have gone to public schools, the money in these personal accounts created for voucher students could be used for private school tuition and other educational services such as tutoring. A 2019 version of the proposed ESA voucher carried a $542 million taxpayer price tag by its 10th year.
HB 60 Current status: Did not pass House by 2021 Crossover Day; eligible to pass during the 2022 legislative session
HB 142: Seeks to expand the existing tax credit voucher program, which has a current annual price tag of $100 million. The program lacks transparency and accountability measures, according to a recent audit by the Georgia Department of Audits and Account, which laid out a series of recommendations to bolster legislative oversight. Lawmakers have not acted on the recommendations, but they are pushing to boost program costs by $50 million annually.
HB 142 Current status: Did not pass House by 2021 Crossover Day; eligible to pass during the 2022 legislation session
Resources to Stop Vouchers
PAGE Analysis of HB 60: Explains proposed ESA voucher and highlights flaws.
PAGE Analysis of SB 47: Explains proposed expansion of special needs vouchers and flags concerns.
Pushing Private Dollars to Public Schools: PAGE report that examines Georgia’s existing voucher programs, highlighting multiple concerns.
Audit Report of Georgia’s Tax Credit Voucher Program: State audit of the program, which concluded the program lacks needed transparency and accountability measures and calls on lawmakers to increase legislative oversight.
AJC Article Debunking Efficacy Claims of Tax Credit Voucher Program: Article from Kevin Welner, researcher at the University of Colorado-Boulder and voucher expert, outlining flaws in recent review of Georgia’s tax credit voucher program.
Cost Analysis of 2019 ESA Voucher Proposal: Fiscal note on the ESA voucher proposed in 2019, which was prepared by the state Office of Planning and Budget, showing a price tag of $542 million by its tenth year.
Recent Studies on Poor Academic Achievement among Voucher Students
Multiple analyses of the academic effects of private school vouchers show no positive effect on student learning or, most troubling, a decline in achievement among voucher students.
Summary of voucher research
Louisiana: Study from the University of Arkansas showing large negative effects on student achievement, particularly in math
Ohio: Evaluation from the conservative Fordham Institute found voucher students had lower achievement levels than peers in public schools
Indiana: An analysis from researchers at the University of Kentucky and University of Notre Dame found a loss in math achievement and no effect in reading
Washington, DC: Evaluation of voucher program by Institute of Education Sciences showing no significant effect on student achievement in math or reading
Brief on Vouchers and Special Needs Students: Issue brief from the National Center for Learning Disabilities that explains why vouchers do not serve students with disabilities well.