This afternoon at 3:00, the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee chaired by Brentwood’s Rep. Charles Sargent will hear the bill to institute a voucher program that would allow taxpayer funds to go to private schools. The fiscal note would pull $221 million out of public schools over the first five years and $71 million per year after that.
Oh, but that’s not all!
Legislative leaders have already said they will want to expand the program (initially focused on districts with the lowest performing schools). This is what has happened in other states. Our local legislators have declared that this is all about helping kids in “failing” schools. But what’s the evidence that voucher-funded private schools do better? Milwaukee has had a voucher program for 25 years. Look at this chart and note that Milwaukee public schools have a higher percentage of both low-income students and special needs students than the voucher-funded private schools to which they are compared.
Likewise, pro-privatization groups wanted to make New Orleans the model of school privatization. However, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that students attending a voucher-paid private school had lower math scores and lower performance in reading, science, and social studies. They also found these negative effects were most pronounced among younger children. See Tennessee Education Report’s recent article.
So…unproven, risky, expensive. What’s conservative about this voucher bill?
Williamson County residents, please contact Rep. Charles Sargent TODAY! 615-741-6808, firstname.lastname@example.org
Email the entire Finance Committee TODAY! Phone numbers are also listed on TREE’s call to action.
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