Talking Points on Vouchers: What to Say

"To build our public education system back up to its former world-class status, we must invest dollars there, not in programs, such as vouchers, that have proven to be ineffective for thousands of children and communities across our nation."

- Tina Dove, National Opportunity to Learn Campaign Director

To help you with your campaigns and advocacy work, here are some talking points to keep in mind when discussing the harmful effects that vouchers have on our students and our nation's public school system: 

Vouchers for private and religious schools undermine our public schools.

  • The privatization of public education through vouchers means that public dollars are used to support private schools. Vouchers and similar tax-credit programs divert already scarce resources from public schools, impact a limited number of students and generally don't improve children's educational outcomes.

Vouchers take valuable resources from the traditional public schools that educate most children.

  • Each year, $1 BILLION is redirected to private schools for voucher and tax credit programs, including nearly $300 million in Florida alone. Wisconsin annually diverts more than $130 million in hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund its voucher initiatives, while Pennsylvania drains its public coffers of more than $52 million to support them. Read more >>

The evidence shows that vouchers produce few if any significant positive effects for students.

  • Reputable research on voucher programs in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., indicates that these programs produce few if any statistically significant positive effects on student achievement. In a recent national review of a decade's worth of research, the Center on Education Policy found that publicly funded voucher programs have failed to produce promised academic gains for thousands of students. Read more >>

Voucher programs do not provide equal educational opportunities for all children.

  • Private schools often discriminate against students with physical and learning disabilities and English language learners, some of our most vulnerable students. In 2000, Wisconsin state education officials found "probable cause" that some Milwaukee voucher schools were using admission fees, religion and other criteria in violation of the state law requiring schools to admit students on the basis of random selection. Read more >>

Private schools that accept vouchers are less accountable for results than public schools.

  • Because private schools aren't required to meet the same standards as public schools, voucher programs encourage a lack of accountability. A 2000 audit of Milwaukee voucher schools found that a number had no accreditation and, in fact, were not seeking accreditation. An audit of Cleveland voucher schools found nearly $2 million in questionable expenses for the first year alone. Read more >>

Voucher programs violate our nation's basic principles of separation of church and state.

  • Because voucher programs are funded with taxpayer dollars, they violate the principles of separation of church and state. Individual taxpayers end up supporting religious schools whether they want to or not. Some states have recognized this inherent problem with voucher programs. For example, in 2004, Florida's 1999 voucher law was struck down for a third time because it violated the state constitutional bans against public funds being used to "directly or indirectly" aid sectarian institutions and a number of other state constitutions have similar language. Read more >>