School Vouchers Task Force Unspecific on Cost, Scope

The governor’s task force on school vouchers says they should focus on students from poor families. But a draft report from the group stops short of pinning down some tough details. Next year lawmakers will likely take up vouchers, which would divert money out of public schools, so parents could instead pay private school tuition.

The task force generally agreed a state vouchers program should vet schools getting money, as well as the results. But there was no agreement on how much money eligible students should get, or whether such a program should start out in only certain districts.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says if measuring student progress entails giving state tests, not all private schools will be on-board.

“I think those are the kinds of things that are inherent in running a program like this. You’re not going to have every school agree to participate, and you’re not going to have access for every single student.”

Huffman expects the group’s final recommendation to come out after Thanksgiving. Link to the draft report here (pdf).

Detractors

Jerry Winters, a lobbyist for the state teachers union, which opposes vouchers, said “the details are what will kill this idea.” The governor has said that before he signs any voucher bill, there will be a discussion about whether the state wants one.

“The answer to that is clearly no,” Winters says. “Because what we’re talking about here is something that is going to rob public schools of money, and send it to private and religious schools. I don’t think that’s a good idea, I don’t think that’s what parents want, what the people concerned about public education want.”

Meanwhile, if the administration does nothing, the sponsor of a bill that passed the state senate last session but stalled in the house may still offer his own proposal.


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