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Are vouchers losing steam? – The American Prospect

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After all the kerfuffle we’ve had over vouchers in New Hampshire , there actually hasn’t been that much interest so far.  Businesses haven’t been contributing.  Very few public school kids have been applying, if the publicly available numbers are any indication.  The court may end the program altogether.  And the more you look at what’s going on in our public schools, the clearer it becomes that a debate about vouchers is an unproductive distraction from the real discussion about how we can best educate our low and middle income children.

Now it seems that our New Hampshire experience may be a reflection of a lack of interest in vouchers nationally.  There is a pretty straight talk overview of the national trend in The American Prospect.  Here’s the lede:

When news broke Tuesday that the Louisiana Supreme Court struck down Louisiana’s voucher system, which uses public dollars to pay for low-income students to go to private schools, the fight over vouchers made its way back into the headlines. The Louisiana program, pushed hard and publicly by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, offers any low-income child in the state, regardless of what public school they would attend, tuition assistance at private schools. It’s something liberals fear will become commonplace in other states in the future if conservative lawmakers get their way on education policy.

Yet conservatives have been dominating legislatures since 2010 and there has been little success in creating voucher programs. Louisiana is one of only two states with such a broad program in place. After the 2010 Tea Party wave there was “a big spike in the number of states considering voucher legislation,” says Josh Cunningham, a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). But most of those states didn’t actually pass any bills. Since 2010, four states have created new voucher programs. This year alone, according to NCSL, voucher bills have failed in seven states. While vouchers were once a key piece of the school choice agenda, they now play second fiddle to more popular education reform policies. But are they dead?

“Charter schools are the main thing at this point in time,” says William J. Mathis, managing director at the National Education Policy Center, which studies educational policy. “Vouchers just never seemed to grab traction.”

via Are Vouchers Dead?.


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