Vouchers offer equal opportunity

Aug 12, 2015 by

Students-in-classroom

State should give poorer families chances for choice

By Ken Ardon, Cara Stillings Candal –

Despite many historic improvements, K-12 education in Massachusetts is still too much like a game of musical chairs. Families who can afford it move to wealthy communities or send their children to private schools, children from a few less-affluent families win lotteries that allow their children to go to charter schools, and too many of the rest are left standing when the music stops.

That would change if Massachusetts passed a voucher program that would give poorer families the access to private schools that their more affluent counterparts already enjoy — something that could be done at little or no cost to taxpayers.

Vouchers — which provide public funds to help parents pay private school tuition — worth $6,000 per year for grades K-8 and $8,000 for high school could be offered to 10,000 students from low-income families. Since the amount of the voucher is less than the commonwealth’s average per-pupil spending of about $12,000 per year, there is no net cost to taxpayers even if spending per pupil on the remaining students rises.

By this fall, 400,000 students, mostly from low-income families or those with special needs, will be educated under private school-choice programs in 23 states and the District of Columbia. The programs include scholarship tax credits, which work indirectly by providing a tax credit to a third party who donates money to fund a scholarship that is provided to parents; vouchers; and educational savings accounts, which operate like vouchers but also allow the money to be used for other educational expenses.

Source: Ardon and Candal: Vouchers offer equal opportunity | Boston Herald

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