NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Private School Choice: Options for Texas Children

February 28, 2013

When students are not engrossed in the curriculum, they quickly become confused, bored or develop discipline problems. Public schools exacerbate boredom by prescribing a one-sizes-fits-all curriculum to a diverse student population. For Texas students, vouchers may provide more individualized curricula and specialized schooling that addresses these problems, say John Merrifield, Lewis Warne, Lloyd Bentsen IV, Courtney O'Sullivan and Joe Barnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • Surveys have found that 40 percent to 60 percent of suburban, urban and rural students are not engaged with public school content.
  • Increasing the variety of schools will incentivize public schools to improve performance, efficiency and compete with specialized schools.
  • In Texas, school choice would foster competition and could be implemented through universal tuition vouchers, as well as corporate and individual tuition tax credits.

Ruled constitutional by the U.S. and Texas Supreme Courts, a school voucher program could be structured to ensure funding levels per public school student remain steady at no new cost to the taxpayer.

  • If public school students had a voucher worth 75 percent of average spending in 2013-2014 ($6,667), about 450,000 students would use them, saving taxpayers $1.87 billion over two years.
  • If, in addition, current private school students had a voucher phased in over three years and 60 percent used the voucher, net total savings to taxpayers after two years would be about $580 million.
  • Additionally, over 10 years, reduced debt service and capital outlays could save local school districts roughly $24,000 per voucher, or $10.8 billion.

By reimbursing private school tuition for Texas students, more school choice would increase competition, raise available public per-pupil funds, make classrooms more manageable for teachers, save taxpayers money, increase local economic output and raise property values.

  • A broad school choice program would foster competition and significantly reduce system-wide problems such as falling productivity, discipline issues and high drop-out rates.
  • By giving families more control over their educational spending, every family is able to spend their voucher on the school that is most suitable for their child's needs.

Source: John Merrifeld, Lewis Warne, Lloyd Bentsen IV, Courtney O'Sullivan and Joe Barnett, "Private School Choice: Options for Texas Children," National Center for Policy Analysis, February 2013.


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