Vouchers Do Not Work for Students: Resources to Stop Vouchers
PAGE and PAGE members consistently oppose private school vouchers, which divert tax dollars from public schools and have a poor track record of boosting student learning. Claims that vouchers expand parental choice are misleading because student enrollment and service delivery are controlled by private schools which determine which students to admit and serve.
Private schools have legal authority to turn away students with disabilities, behavioral concerns, and mental health issues. The schools can close their doors to students struggling academically, students who are parents, or students whose families struggle financially.
Georgia has two private school voucher programs that cost approximately $155 million in the 2023-2024 school year. These programs lack important financial and academic accountability and transparency.
Nevertheless, some lawmakers are pushing for more vouchers:
HB 54 aims to expand the state’s existing tax credit voucher program, raising its annual price tag to $200 million from the current $120 million.
HB 101 also seeks to increase funding for the tax credit program to $130 million.
The bills were introduced in the 2023 legislative session and are eligible to pass in the 2024 session. As the legislature convenes in January, the status of each bill, which could also be added to other moving legislation at any time, is as follows:
SB 233 passed the Senate and was narrowly voted down in the House. It is tabled in the House and could be debated and voted on again at any time.
HB 54 is in the House Ways & Means Committee. It has not yet been voted on by the committee but could move at any time.
HB 101 was approved by the House and has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. It could move forward at any time.
Resources to Stop Vouchers
Pushing Private Dollars to Public Schools: PAGE report that examines Georgia’s existing voucher programs, highlighting multiple concerns. Published in 2020 before the passage of SB 47 in 2021.
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.
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.