The second half of House Bill 669 is an Education Savings Account or ESA. ESA’s are simply vouchers by another name. Rather than giving the taxpayer funds directly to the private school like traditional vouchers, the government deposits taxpayer funds into an “education savings account” that the parents can use for various educational purposes, including tuition at private, religious schools. The result is the same: they divert desperately-needed state and federal resources away from the public school system to private schools with zero accountability to the state or taxpayers.
Need Talking Points?
- Private schools are harmful for students in need of greater resources.
- Rural areas have very little, if any, access to private schools. Many private schools do not provide transportation to students. In order to access a private school, students would be required to endure long, costly commutes.
- Most private school ESA’s would simply be inapplicable to rural communities.
- In rural communities, small-town public schools do more than just educate children. They serve a critical social and economic function as the primary employer. They also:
- Offer health care or medical referrals for children and adults;
- Offer food pantries, and free & reduced meal programs;
- Are the location of many community activities;
- Rural areas rely more heavily on state funding. The result of HB669 means rural schools will be forced to spread the same fixed costs for facilities, administration, and instruction over a smaller revenue stream.
2. Private school vouchers do not provide the same accountability to taxpayers as public schools.
- Idaho’s public-school districts and charter schools financials are broadly available to the public for inspection. Private school vouchers do not have this same public inspection requirement.
- Idaho’s public school district and charter school budgets and fee increases are required to have public hearings. Private school vouchers do not have this same public hearing requirement.
- Most voucher programs lack accountability measures, and many also lack proper oversight mechanisms to ensure that private schools and program administrators meet even the minimal standards that do exist.
- Many voucher schools are permitted to take taxpayer money without implementing any requirements for teacher qualifications, testing, or achievement.
- Many states do not require accreditation for private schools, meaning that taxpayer-funded vouchers are regularly used to pay for tuition at unaccredited schools.
3. Private school vouchers undermine the state’s commitment to public education.
- Idaho’s public school districts and charter schools provide fiscal transparency, student achievement and accountability measures, operations transparency, special education and services for students with disabilities, requirements for teachers and service staff, and much more. Most private schools do not have any of these strict requirements. There is no accountability with taxpayer funds.
- Public schools are a unifying factor among diverse communities.
- Private school vouchers undermine the vital function of providing resources to diverse students.
- Private school vouchers divert desperately needed resources away from public schools who serves the vast majority of students.
- Taxpayer funds are better served making our public schools stronger.
4. Private school vouchers do not improve academic achievement.
- Without student accountability measures such as requiring participating private schools to comply with the curriculum standards, reporting, and testing requirements as public schools in their state, there is no way to gauge whether such programs are effective.
- Idaho public school districts and charter schools are required to conduct state testing of their students. Private school vouchers do not require this.
- Repeated studies of voucher programs across the country show that vouchers result in worse test scores for students.
- Voucher programs, specifically in Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio have proven ineffective in improving academic opportunities for students.
- Studies of long-standing voucher programs in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and the District of Columbia found that students who received vouchers showed no improvement in reading or math over those not in the program.
5. Private schools do not provide the same rights as public schools do.
- Unlike public schools, private schools do not have to follow laws such as The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
- Private schools do not adequately serve students with disabilities, nor do they provide them the same quality and quantity of students include those mandated under a student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program).
- Students who attend private schools are also stripped of their First Amendment, due process, and other constitutional and statutory rights guaranteed to them in public schools.