Rep. Candelaria Reardon (1-800-382-9842) has introduced HB 1228 which is an interesting proposal that I don’t see getting a hearing. It says that, if a voucher school gets a lower performance grade than the public school in which a student lives, then the student can’t use the voucher at the voucher school. If the kid was already at the voucher school, the student can keep attending.
If the purpose of “school choice” is for students to be able to get out of failing schools and move to a better school, then this proposal makes a lot of sense. If the point of the exercise is to subsidize parochial education, to bust unions, or to divert public education money to friends and well-wishers, then obviously this proposal would not be met with favor.
Whether this would save the state money or cost it money is tied to the question of how many students that attend voucher schools would otherwise attend public schools. There seem to be a fair number of kids who were going to attend the voucher schools anyway but are now being subsidized by taxpayers to go to these schools. (“[M]ore than 50 percent of students accepting vouchers had never attended a public school.”) So, in terms of financial impact to taxpayers, the question is whether, if their private school underperformed the public school and they were no longer eligible for a voucher, the kids would stay at the private school or go to the public school in their area.