NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Will Vouchers Come With Strings Attached?

October 2, 1997

Some private school administrators are concerned that they might lose control over teaching, curriculum and admissions policies if the government were to attach certain requirements to school vouchers. For example, they say a requirement that schools would have to admit any student who showed up with a voucher could wreck private schools' efforts to assure student clients a quality education. And religious educators warn that if religious activities were forbidden or church-related schools could not participate, it could lead to their demise.

  • As of 1995, 5.03 million children were enrolled in private schools -- compared to nearly 6 million in 1985.
  • There are 27,686 private schools in the U.S., teaching students in grades kindergarten through 12.
  • Fully 77 percent of private schools are sponsored by religious groups.
  • Of all private schools, 61 percent teach only at the elementary level, 9 percent at the secondary level, and 30 percent combine both elementary and secondary education.

Forty-one percent of private schools are located in city centers, and 37 percent are on urban fringes or in large towns. Those in rural areas and small towns make up the remaining 22 percent, according to the Department of Education.

Proponents of vouchers point out that private schools are not required to accept vouchers. They can choose to participate or not.

Clint Bolick, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice who has represented voucher-using parents and children in court, hopes a school voucher case testing the church-state separation issue will get to the Supreme Court within two years. There, he says, it might be argued that if a voucher program gives money to parents -- not to schools -- voucher laws can be allowed on church-state grounds because the government played a neutral role.

Source: Laura M. Litvan, "Vouchers: Gov't Trojan Horse?" Investor's Business Daily, October 2, 1997.


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